7 lawmakers to watch as immigration debate resumes

Emma Dumain, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

Though Cornyn is now one of the negotiators on immigration legislation, he has consistently represented in leadership ranks the voices of conservatives who want a deal aligned with the far-right base. Cornyn could continue to be a voice of reason among Senate Republicans about what can and can't be accomplished if they want to avoid intraparty warfare.

–– Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. If Cornyn is helping guide Republicans in the Senate, Meadows is helping steer Republicans in the House toward a deal that conservatives can accept. As the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who regularly communicates with members of the Trump administration, Meadows is positioned to provide the pressure necessary to influence House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Meadows wants a vote on legislation from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., which doesn't have the support to pass in the Senate and might not even have the votes to advance in the House. But if Meadows doesn't get what he wants, he could mobilize more than three dozen conservatives to revolt.

–– Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. Early public signs that Diaz-Balart was engaging in current immigration negotiations came last month, when he was invited to two Oval Office meetings to discuss the issue. Other than that, he has had a relatively low profile in this round of discussions –– though that is how Diaz-Balart has typically behaved on immigration matters.

In 2014, Diaz-Balart was within striking distance of persuading House Republican leaders to put a comprehensive immigration bill on the floor, an effort that fizzled after the surprise primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Three and a half years later, he could be making moves to build consensus on the issue again.


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