This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo
© Anna Moneymaker

House Republicans are scrambling to resuscitate their immigration plan after President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE sparked chaos on Capitol Hill by sending mixed signals about what he supports.

The fate of two immigration bills House GOP leadership planned to vote on this week remain unknown following confusion on Capitol Hill Friday.

The weekly schedule indicates that immigration and border security legislation could be added, but neither the bill by Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.) nor the compromise bill have a definitive date to come to the floor.

The House GOP’s game plan was derailed after Trump said he would not sign the more moderate compromise legislation during an appearance on "Fox & Friends."

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Republicans, caught flat-footed, immediately hit the breaks, signaling they wanted to get on the same page as Trump. 

"We want to get clarity on the president’s position on this bill,” chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryTrump roasts Republicans at private fundraising event North Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats Divides over China, fossil fuels threaten House deal to reboot Ex-Im Bank MORE (R-N.C.) said late last week. “Republicans are not going to take on immigration without the support and endorsement of President Trump.”

The White House then walked back Trump's comments, saying he misspoke thinking he was being asked about the discharge petition.

“The President fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill,”  Raj Shah, White House principal deputy press secretary, said in a statement Friday. “In this morning's interview, he was commenting on the discharge petition in the House, and not the new package. He would sign either the Goodlatte or the leadership bills.”

Negotiators of the compromise bill noted at the end of the week there was still work to be done on the legislation, with both conservatives and moderates taking issue with certain provisions.

The compromise measure would stick to the four main pillars demanded by Trump. It creates a new merit-based visa program for so-called Dreamers, provides $25 billion for border security, ends the diversity visa lottery program and limits family-based migration.

It also includes a trigger mechanism to halt the new visas if Congress denies funding for the border wall and ends the “catch and release” immigration loopholes.

Conservatives, meanwhile, have expressed concern that it lacks provisions to address E-verify, the guest worker program and "sanctuary cities."

Trump is slated to meet with House Republicans Tuesday to discuss legislation to protect Dreamers and increase border security. The closed-door discussion could be crucial in determining the path forward for House GOP leadership.

But neither of the proposals currently have a lock on 218 Republican-only votes. Democrats have warned they won’t support either and that the only way to get an immigration bill out of the House is with bipartisan support.

House GOP leadership initially promised to bring the two bills up for a vote as a way to stave off a discharge petition from centrists that would force a freewheeling immigration debate on the House floor.

Inspector general report

Congress will dig into a watchdog report on the FBI during the lead-up to the 2016 election, setting up an explosive two days on Capitol Hill.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a long-anticipated report late last week on the FBI’s handling of the high-profile probe into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton3 ways government can help clean up Twitter Intelligence Democrat: Stop using 'quid pro quo' to describe Trump allegations The Memo: Bloomberg's 2020 moves draw ire from Democrats MORE’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State.

Horowitz hammered former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyScores of US dams found in poor condition, endangering thousands of people: analysis Former National Security Adviser John Bolton gets book deal: report Deep engagement is a two-way street MORE for poor judgment during the 2016 election, but found no evidence to show his key decisions in the investigation were improperly influenced by political bias.

Republicans immediately seized on text messages included in the report between Peter Strzok, a top FBI investigator on the Clinton investigation and the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, seemingly reassuring lawyer Lisa Page that Trump would not become president.

When Page asked, in a text message, if Trump would ever become president, Strzok responded that he would not because “we’ll stop it.”

Democrats, meanwhile, argued that report shows that Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation benefited Trump’s presidential campaign.

The first hearing will take place Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition to Horowitz, Grassley announced late last week that FBI Director Christopher Wray will also testify.

Wray defended the FBI in the wake of the report. He said while he was “disappointed” by the findings, they do not impugn “the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution.”

Horowitz will then cross the Capitol on Tuesday to testify before a joint hearing between the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

ZTE deal

The Senate is poised to approve legislation blocking Trump’s deal to save Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.

Senators are expected to pass a mammoth defense policy bill on Monday, which includes a provision keeping the Commerce Department penalties against ZTE in place.

It would also ban government agencies from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment and services from Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE and ban the government from providing loans to or subsidizing either company.

The White House is pledging it will try to get the ban removed during a conference committee, where senators will need to merge their version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with one passed earlier this year by the House.

The administration will work with Congress to ensure the final NDAA conference report respects the separation of powers,” said Hogan Gidley, a deputy press secretary for the White House.

The administration announced a deal earlier this month to lift penalties against ZTE in exchange for the company paying a $1 billion fine and placing a U.S.-selected compliance team within the firm.

Defense bill

The Senate is expected to pass a mammoth defense policy bill on Monday evening.

The move comes after votes on hundreds of amendments to the legislation hit a wall amid bickering between Senate Republicans. Under the chamber’s rules, any one senator can block another senator from getting a vote unless Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week MORE (R-Ky.) wants to eat up days of floor time.

GOP senators lashed out at each other on the Senate floor last week as they tried, but failed, to get votes on their own proposals. GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Graham on the impeachment inquiry: 'I made my mind up. There's nothing there' Rand Paul says Trump has 'every right' to withhold Ukraine aid over corruption MORE (S.C.) is blocking Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSunday shows — New impeachment phase dominates Rand Paul says Trump has 'every right' to withhold Ukraine aid over corruption Paul dismisses Bevin loss, touts 'red wave' in other Kentucky races MORE (R-Ky.) from getting a vote on an indefinite detention proposal. In return, Paul and GOP Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOn The Money: Retirement savings bill blocked in Senate after fight over amendments | Stopgap bill may set up December spending fight | Hardwood industry pleads for relief from Trump trade war Retirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments Senators press NSA official over shuttered phone surveillance program MORE (Utah) blocked votes on other amendments.

Republicans also blocked GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing GOP senators frustrated with Romney jabs at Trump Vulnerable senators hold the key to Trump's fate MORE (Tenn.) from getting a vote on his legislation to require congressional approval for tariffs implemented in the name of national security. Corker lashed out at his colleagues, saying they are afraid to “poke the bear,” and that the relationship between leadership and Trump is becoming “cult-like.”

Those frustrations also boiled over during a closed-door lunch, when Lee lamented the lack of amendment votes and Corker brought up his inability to get a vote on his tariff proposal.

Graham, who reportedly blasted both of them during the lunch, acknowledged after the caucus meeting that he “ran a little hot” and had to apologize for his remarks.

The NDAA — named after Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says husband John McCain would be 'disgusted' by state of GOP Meghan McCain to Trump Jr. on 'The View': 'You and your family have hurt a lot of people' Trump Jr. defends father on 'The View': He's 'controversial,' but 'took on the establishment' MORE (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Armed Services Committee but is battling brain cancer in Arizona — cleared the Armed Services Committee late last month.

The wide-ranging legislation includes roughly $716 billion in spending, including $617.6 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget and $21.6 billion for defense-related programs of the Energy Department.

It would also include roughly $68.5 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account, and another $8.2 billion in defense-related spending outside the jurisdiction of the NDAA.

Rescissions

Senate Republicans are expected to bring Trump’s plan to claw back spending up for a vote this week, even as they appear short on votes.

Congress has until Friday if they want to approve the $15 billion rescissions package by a simple majority, allowing them to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

With McCain absent from Washington, GOP leadership has no room for error if they want to be able to pass the legislation.

But several GOP senators — including Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week Trump attends football game with Jeff Sessions' Alabama Senate race opponent Bradley Byrne MORE (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee — said late last week that they are still evaluating the bill or have concerns.

That could leave them needing the support of Democrats if they want to get the package, which passed the House earlier this month, to Trump’s desk.

No Democratic senator has stepped forward to say they would support the legislation. Democrats have distanced themselves from the bill because it, in part, targets accounts related to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Nearly half of the $14.6 billion in roadblocks comes from unobligated funds within CHIP. Opponents argue the cuts could lead to a loss of coverage if enrollment is higher than expected.

If the Senate passes the rescissions bill, it will be the largest single presidential rescission request to pass since 1974, when the current budgetary process was put in place.

Appropriations

The full Senate will start its work on funding the government as lawmakers look to avoid passing another omnibus bill later this year.

McConnell teed up a “minibus” — a combination of individual appropriations bills — before the Senate left late last week. The legislation merges appropriations for the energy and water, legislative branch, and military construction and veterans affairs bills.

The Senate is expected to take an initial vote on proceeding to the appropriations legislation on Monday evening.

The House passed its first three spending bills, also packed together as a “mini-bus,” earlier this month. After the Senate passes its legislation, it will need to merge its bill with the House proposal.

Congress has until the end of September to pass government funding legislation and avoid another shutdown.

Republicans are eager to avoid passing a mammoth omnibus bill after Trump threatened to veto the legislation passed in March. Though he ultimately backed down, he warned at the time that he would not sign a similar bill.

Opioids

After passing dozens of bills to alleviate the opioid crisis last week, the lower chamber is expected to take up additional bills aimed at tackling the crisis in coming days.

The House is on track to pass more than 50 bills by the end of the week.

While Democrats have said the bills don’t do enough, with Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneDemocrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data Democrats say they're waiting for nearly 50 requests for Trump info on science, environment Trump pressed to follow through on vaping crackdown MORE (D-N.J.) alleging it “really doesn’t do a lot,” Republicans said they are committed to passing legislation to combat the epidemic.

“We’re going to legislate and evaluate. We’re not done,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race The GOP should follow the example of Rep. Greg Walden Shimkus announces he will stick with plan to retire after reconsidering MORE (R-Ore.) told The Hill on Friday. “There will be more opportunities coming because we want to get it right. We’ll need to come back. That’s part of being good legislators.”