House Republicans are nearing the point of no return on immigration.
A petition that would force a slew of immigration votes is three signatures away from success, while Speaker Paul Ryan continues to negotiate with petition ringleader Rep. Carlos Curbelo and conservative Republicans.
Curbelo said a Thursday morning meeting with the entire Republican caucus went well.
#ImmigrationReform @HouseGOP meeting," Curbelo tweeted. "I don’t think it could have gone any better. Some questions but a lot of consensus. Our country deserves meaningful action on #immigration now. For too long politicians have used this issue for personal political gain. Enough."
But conservative Rep. Mark Meadows, who leads a group that is opposed to Curbelo's discharge petition, said a deal that satisfies the various factions of House Republicans was not reached on Thursday morning. Marc Short, President Donald Trump's liaison on Capitol Hill, said Curbelo's petition would cede the House floor to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. He wants to see the House agree to an immigration plan that looks like the president's proposal from earlier this year, though that proposal failed to gain support in the U.S. Senate in February.
Other Republicans who have not signed Curbelo's petition did not agree with Short's assessment, and said the petition gives Ryan the latitude to craft a bill that satisfies 218 Republicans.
"Some of us are really frustrated to not be able to have a vote," petition signer Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said. "Miami, South Florida in general is ground zero for Dreamers so we want a permanent legislative fix, we want them to have a pathway to citizenship, but we realize for some that's really tough."
Ros-Lehtinen said Ryan and Republican leaders aren't cajoling Republicans not to sign the petition, at least not in front of other members, but that getting three more people to sign on will be a major challenge.
"In the conference they weren't telling people 'Don't sign the petition,'" Ros-Lehtinen said. "We're three signatures away but it's like the last two minutes of a football game, it just goes on forever."
There's a limited window for immigration votes if Curbelo's petition succeeds. If Curbelo can get enough support in the next week or so, the House could vote on four immigration bills on June 25.
Republicans like Ros-Lehtinen and Curbelo, who both represent Miami-area districts with thousands of immigrations, are demanding a legislative solution that provides a path to citizenship for 700,000 young people who came to the United States years ago.