House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Wednesday called for “new leadership” in the House Republican Conference, accusing Speaker Paul Ryan’s team of dragging its feet on holding a vote on a GOP immigration bill,.
In a briefing with reporters, Meadows blasted House GOP leaders for waiting for the Senate to act on immigration before taking up legislation in the House.
“I don’t think there’s really any conversations right now that would involve a new speaker,” Meadows said when asked if Ryan’s speakership was in jeopardy. “But there are certainly new conversations that would involve new leadership.”
Meadows continued, “Any time that the Senate can take up an immigration bill quicker than the House is a day that should defy history. The Senate is notorious for taking naps , not votes… Yet the Senate is here beating us to votes on immigration?”
The Senate is debating immigration proposals this week in a free-for-all open amendment process. But House Republican leaders, until recently, have been reluctant to put an immigration bill on the floor, wary that any Republican proposal could pass and aware of the divisions it would open within the party.
Moderate Republicans would likely vote with Democrats on a simple package shielding Dreamers from deportation in exchange for additional border security. But Freedom Caucus members and other House conservatives want to curb legal immigration as well.
Conservatives have pushed GOP leaders hard for a vote on a plan that does just that, authored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). GOP leaders were reluctant to put it on the floor, but now are making tweaks and rounding up support in preparation for a vote.
Meadows said the looming immigration showdown in the House will be critical for Ryan.
“I can say that it is a defining moment for this speaker: If he gets it wrong, it will have consequences for him but it will also have consequences for the rest of the Republican party,” Meadows said.