Trump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE on Friday may have doomed the chances for a House GOP immigration bill after urging Republican lawmakers to abandon the compromise effort they have been working on for weeks.

The legislation was already on life support, with party leaders deciding on Thursday to postpone a vote to the following day as they struggled to garner enough support for the measure.

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But Trump likely put the nail in the coffin, telling Republicans they should “stop wasting their time” on the divisive issue.

“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!”

Earlier in the week, Trump personally rallied members to support the immigration legislation — the product of weeks of delicate negotiations between centrists and conservatives — and told GOP lawmakers he was with them “1,000 percent.”

The whiplash has some House Republicans seriously doubting that leaders will be able to get the bill over the finish line, which was already going to be an uphill climb before Trump's tweet.

“Our GOP conference is still in the throes of negotiations,” said retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenRepublican Salazar seeks rematch with Shalala in key Miami House district Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE of Florida. “This is schizoid policy-making by tweets, that what you say on Monday may not last on Friday. You just fear that tweet in the morning.”

“Torpedoed by tweet. Tweet-pedoed,” centrist Rep. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloFormer GOP Rep. Costello launches lobbying shop Head of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts Lobbying world MORE (R-Pa.), who is also retiring, quipped in Twitter.

GOP leaders, however, say they are still aiming for a vote next week, with negotiations planned for this weekend. They also downplayed the potential impact of Trump’s tweet.

“He didn’t say to pull [the bill]," House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseSchiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public Kinzinger challenges Trump's defense chief on Syria in closed-door meeting House Republicans expected to force vote on revised Schiff censure MORE (R-La.) told reporters Friday. "He just is acknowledging that there is no willingness of Democrats to work with us to solve this problem.” 

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE (R-Wis.) and his team are giving themselves one more week to thread the needle on a compromise plan designed to unite the moderate and conservative wings of their restive conference — a feat that has eluded the party for years. The effort comes as leaders have been racing to defuse a revolt from moderates who were threatening to force action to protect so-called Dreamers who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

The compromise measure would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, earmark $25 billion for Trump's border wall and other security measures, end the diversity visa lottery program and limit family-based migration.

It also would end the separation of migrant families at the U.S. border, a crisis that exploded in recent weeks and has ramped up pressure on Republicans to pass immigration legislation.

The House on Thursday rejected a more hard-line immigration measure sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in a 193-231 vote. That bill contained tougher enforcement measures and would not have provided a path to citizenship for Dreamers, though it would have given them a temporary, renewable legal status.

A vote on the compromise bill was initially scheduled for Thursday but then pushed back to Friday as it became clear there wasn't enough support for the measure. Some GOP lawmakers also complained they didn’t have enough time to read and digest the nearly 300-page measure that was rolled out late Tuesday night.

Leadership eventually decided to delay the vote until next week in the hopes of modifying the measure to attract more supporters.

But it’s unclear whether the extra time will make any difference, especially without the clear backing of Trump.

“Given how contentious this issue is, I don’t know how Congress can move ahead without presidential backing,” said Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordGeorge Conway donates to Trump challenger Joe Walsh Amash says he's happy not feeling 'bound to a particular party' 2020 Presidential Candidates MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. “At least with that tweet, he signaled that he was not willing to do so. If so, I think immigration is dead.”

Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsOn The Money: Economy adds 136K jobs in September | Jobless rate at 50-year low | Treasury IG to probe handling of Trump tax returns request | House presses Zuckerberg to testify on digital currency Two Collins associates plead guilty in insider trading case On The Money: Trump blames Fed as manufacturing falters | US to join Trump lawsuit over NY subpoena for tax returns | Ex-Rep. Chris Collins pleads guilty in insider trading case MORE (R-N.Y.), a Trump ally, indicated he doesn't expect the bill to move forward.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, but being a realist, I’m fully prepared to see it not pass," Collins told reporters Friday morning. "And I think that’s where the president is as well.”

But Collins added that Trump’s “getting out in front of it maybe a little sooner than I would, in recognizing the Democrats are a bunch of hypocrites.”

During an emergency GOP conference meeting Thursday night, some lawmakers proposed including language that would overhaul the agricultural guest worker program and require employers to use an electronic verification system to ensure workers are legal.

Bill sponsors had initially resisted adding the contentious provisions to the compromise measure, and it’s unclear whether they will come around to the idea over the weekend.

“I think there is going to be a discussion on [E-Verify]," centrist Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloProgressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP Anxious GOP treads carefully with Trump defense MORE (R-Fla.), one of the lead negotiators, told The Hill on Thursday night. But he said he’ll “have to see” before deciding whether to support the proposed changes.

Friday’s tweet from Trump isn’t the first time the president has undermined GOP leadership’s plans.

He sparked chaos last week when he initially said he wouldn’t sign the compromise bill. Several hours later the White House walked back the comments and clarified that Trump would in fact support the legislation.

GOP leaders then invited Trump to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening, hoping to clear up any confusion. Some on-the-fence Republicans were also invited to the White House so that Trump could personally sell them on the immigration package.

But some lawmakers came away from Tuesday's closed-door meeting saying Trump’s message was unclear and that he frequently veered off topic during the meeting.

Some conservative lawmakers said they still need to hear more from the president to get on board with the compromise plan.

Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, a state where Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric resonated during the 2016 presidential campaign, said he and other Republicans would like to hear whether Trump believes the compromise is an amnesty bill, as some groups on the right have characterized it.

“I think there’s a lot of mixed signals out there, exactly how strongly the president is for the bill,” Aderholt, who voted for the Goodlatte bill and is undecided on the compromise measure, said Thursday.

“Some people still want to label it an amnesty bill, and so I think we need some clarification on that: What is amnesty and what is defined as amnesty?" he said. "In this business, it’s not what is reality, it’s what’s the perception."

Meanwhile, some hard-line conservatives who are opposed to the compromise measure were cheering Trump’s tweet on Friday, a sign of the impact they think it will have.

“I think the president did the right thing,” Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHouse conservatives attempt to access closed-door impeachment hearing Conservative lawmakers demand Schiff's recusal from Trump impeachment inquiry Louie Gohmert's exchange with Robert Mueller revealed an uneasy relationship MORE (R-Texas) told Fox Business Network. “I appreciate his tweet this morning more than you can imagine.” 

-Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong contributed