Speaker Paul Ryan quashed a rank-and-file effort to force Democrats to take a politically toxic vote to abolish the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, sources familiar with the matter told POLITICO.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) last week floated the idea of forcing Democrats to vote on a bill that would eliminate ICE, a proposal backed by the far-left but is unpopular with most voters. Republicans, the thinking went, would win either way: Democrats would either back the bill and watch Republicans use it against them in the midterms. Or a portion of Democrats would oppose it, depressing the liberal base.
But Ryan (R-Wis.) was concerned about a third option: that Democrats wouldn’t vote at all, or uniformly oppose it, making Republicans look silly. Last Friday, he told House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) he didn’t want to put the measure, sponsored by Progressive Caucus co-Chairman Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), on the floor — even though McCarthy told reporters just hours before that House Republicans would do just that.
But McCarthy, according to one leadership source, came to agree with Ryan. Since Democrats said they would vote against their own measure, he figured they already had a victory of sorts.
“It became obvious it would backfire and take away rather than advance the issue,” said one GOP source allied with Ryan on this matter.