As is traditional during Infrastructure Week, nobody on Capitol Hill is talking about infrastructure. Instead, lawmakers are zeroing in on immigration and the young undocumented immigrants whose protection from deportation expires in March.
But while all eyes are on the Senate’s not-so-freewheeling debate on those issues, the real action is perhaps in the lower chamber. There, House Republicans are grappling with their own path forward on immigration—and on Wednesday morning, internecine tensions boiled over. Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, offered a direct challenge to House Speaker Paul Ryan: “I can say that it is the defining moment for this speaker,” he said during Conversations with Conservatives, a monthly press conference with members of the House’s right flank. “If he gets it wrong it will have consequences for him, but it will also have consequences for the rest of the Republican Party.” (Ben Williamson, Meadows’s press secretary, quickly tweeted that Meadows was not asking for a personnel change.)
As House leadership quietly awaits action in the Senate, conservatives are anxious to move ahead with their own immigration legislation. House Freedom Caucus members and others have rallied around a bill, authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, that would end family-based migration; slash the visa lottery program; authorize funds for a border wall; and offer renewable legal status for DACA recipients instead of a path to citizenship, as the White House proposal does.