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In feud over immigration, House GOP scrambles for a deal

Republicans engaged in a high-stakes, closed-door fight on Thursday over immigration, and especially on the fate of so-called "Dreamers." Moderates have rebelled against the GOP leaders in order to try and force votes on the issue. Their meeting was an attempt at finding an internal GOP compromise, before moderates join forces with Democrats. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff for more.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    On Capitol Hill today, a tense morning of infighting, as House Republicans threatened to defy their leadership and force a vote on immigration reform.

    Lisa Desjardins has been at the Capitol and has the details.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Today at the Capitol, a high-stakes, closed-door fight among Republicans over immigration, and especially so-called dreamers, hundreds of thousands of people brought here illegally as children.

  • Man:

    We have kids that want to go out there and do great things for this country.

  • Man:

    Give me a bill that doesn't have amnesty. I will bet I can support it.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    All this because moderates like California's Jeff Denham and Florida's Carlos Curbelo have rebelled against GOP leaders to try to force action on the issue.

    They have launched something called a discharge petition to force immigration votes. If a majority of the House signs on, it would trigger floor action.

    With the help of Democrats, the petition is close to having enough names. There is some urgency. Thanks to House rules, moderates have just two windows to act on the petition, in the next few days, or in July.

    Today's rare two-hour meeting was an attempt by leaders to find an internal GOP compromise. If they don't, Speaker Paul Ryan knows his moderates will join with Democrats to pass something else.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.:

    The best we can do is basically make sure that we exhaust the possibilities of coming together as a House Republican Conference to bring a bill to the floor that everyone can support.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Today, the conservative Freedom Caucus signaled it may be willing to move and make a deal.

  • Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.:

    Leadership will take all the input from different members' points of view, and try to boil that down into more of a legislative framework in the coming days.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    What's the potential deal look like? Several House Republicans told "NewsHour" there is agreement on some legal status for dreamers, but disagreement on whether they should get an automatic path to citizenship.

    An idea being floated now? End the visa lottery, where individuals around the world win the chance at citizenship, and use those spots for dreamers who meet certain criteria.

    For dreamers and all who care about immigration, it is a key moment, and possibly the last moment for action this year.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Lisa joins me now.

    So, Lisa, you were telling us there is more on the table as part of these negotiations. Tell us about that.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    There is.

    In the House Republican Conference, they're talking about family migration. And, Judy, it seems conservatives are moving towards a middle here. Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat told me that they would consider some status for extended family for dreamers, but with more requirements.

    And, of course, Judy, there is expectation this deal would have money for the border wall, but watch over what period of time. It could be over 10, 13 years.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, what happens next?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right. OK.

    There is a deadline that these moderates have set. They want to — by next Tuesday, if they don't get a deal that they like, they say they will pull a trigger on a vote of their own and they will go in with Democrats.

    So Tuesday is the day to watch. Once that happens, of course, then we will move to the Senate. It is very hard to predict how Senate will react to different things. Some versions of this would appeal more there, some versions not.

    But I think this is just a critical last attempt at any kind of immigration deal in the next few days. And, Judy, the election is a factor too. Many of these moderates under pressure because their districts are becoming — have a higher minority population nowadays.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But clearly Republican leadership not wanting members of their own caucus to work with Democrats.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    No. That's correct.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you so much.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Pleasure.

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