WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Tuesday that Democrats will move forward with a discharge petition aimed at pressuring Republican leaders to hold a vote on immigration reform.
During an interview with Julie Mason of SiriusXM, Pelosi said Democratic leaders will decide in a few days whether to use the procedural maneuver to try to force action on an immigration bill Democrats introduced last October that's been stalled in committee. The move, called a discharge petition, would require a majority of House members to sign on in support of bringing a bill to the floor. If they can get 218 signatures on the petition, they'll be able to discharge the bill from committee and give it an up-or-down vote on the House floor.
Pelosi conceded that Democrats won't likely collect enough signatures to force the bill out of committee -- it would require some Republicans to buck their party leaders -- but made the case that even having a discharge petition out there puts pressure on Republicans to let the measure get a vote.
"We'll never get the 218 on the discharge petition ... because the Republicans will generally not sign," she said. "But the fact that it is there and the outside mobilization is saying, 'All we want is a vote' -- either sign the petition, which enables us to get a vote, or urge the speaker to give us a vote."
A source familiar with talks on the immigration bill confirmed Democratic leaders are "likely" to move forward with a discharge petition. The source said Pelosi met with a number of groups last week and will meet with more this week to come up with ways to spur action on immigration, including labor organizations, the faith community and leading Hispanic groups.
Progressive groups recently targeted Pelosi in their calls for a discharge petition, which they believe will jumpstart immigration reform as it stalls in the House. The petition would apply to HR 15, a bill based largely on a comprehensive reform bill the Senate passed last June. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the authors of the Senate bill, recently endorsed the idea of House Democrats using a discharge petition.
Pelosi said Tuesday that immigration reform would pass if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would just let it have a vote. Boehner recently downplayed the chances of the bill moving this year.
"If he thinks the votes are not there, he has nothing to lose, right?" she said. "His point of view will prevail. But I'm hopeful, in the spirit of fairness, we'll at least get a vote."