“I mean, the reality is, signatures are there,” he said. “And if we can have an agreement moving forward, that doesn’t mean everybody’s going to love it, right, or anyone of us are going to love it, but then there’s no need for discharge petition.”
On the other hand, Diaz-Balart added, “if the conversation were to go nowhere, then that’s the only option.”
Moderates had been focused on meeting a Tuesday deadline to get 218 signatures for the petition, which would allow them to force the immigration votes on June 25. If they want to wait to see draft legislation, that could delay the petition until July, just weeks before the House is scheduled to go on a month-long August recess.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., expressed frustration Thursday with leadership, who he suggested called their powwow a family meeting.
“I feel like a family with a small ‘f.’ That’s as nice as I could put it,” said Amodei, who has signed the petition. He pointed to some of his colleagues’ “ignorance” of the fact that members could offer amendments to the petition before it reaches the floor in the Rules Committee.
“So to somehow say that this is somehow ceding control of the floor to Nancy Pelosi, I believe to be an inaccurate statement based on meeting with the parliamentarian,” Amodei said.
Leadership outlined President Donald Trump’s four pillars on immigration with “tweaks,” said White House legislative adviser Marc Short, who made the Pelosi comment, saying that turning the House floor over to the minority leader was “not ideal for us in advancing our agenda.”
Leaders showed 11 slides at the meeting, details of which were obtained by NBC, that outlined the president’s four pillars including border security, eliminating the diversity lottery, paring down family members eligible to come to the U.S. and providing a pathway to citizenship for potential participants in the DACA program, covering about 1.8 million people. One slide said e-verify, agriculture guest worker reform, other guest worker reforms and temporary protected status would not be included in negotiations.
The biggest sticking point among the major factions of the conference remains the citizenship issue.
“The hardest part of this is what is the definition for what is a special pathway [to citizenship] and does that include other children of other people that have come [to the U.S.],” said Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, the chairman of the Republican Study Group.
Rep. Thomas Massie, a conservative Republican from Kentucky, joked after the meeting Thursday that the ongoing talks over immigration might be going on too long.
“I say this in jest: If I could get another person to walk out of here and sign the discharge petition, we can end this meeting right now,” Massie said. But seriously, he added, “at some point it might be better to have some votes.”
CORRECTION (June 7, 2018, 5:45 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated that Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is a member of the House Freedom Caucus. He has not joined that caucus.