Trump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration

President TrumpDonald John TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' 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-Lehtinen‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women Florida New Members 2019 House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses 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 Costelllo‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women GOP lawmakers say party isn't trying to learn from midterm losses Pennsylvania New Members 2019 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 ScaliseOn The Money: House GOP struggles to get votes for B in wall funds | Fallout from Oval Office clash | Dems say shutdown would affect 800K workers | House passes 7 billion farm bill GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand Dem knocks GOP colleagues: Blame 'yourself' for unfavorable Google search results 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 RyanOn The Money: House GOP struggles to get votes for B in wall funds | Fallout from Oval Office clash | Dems say shutdown would affect 800K workers | House passes 7 billion farm bill GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand House GOP blocks lawmakers from forcing Yemen war votes for rest of year 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 SanfordThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Bush memorial service in Houston | House passes two-week spending measure | Markets drop after Chinese executive's arrest Incoming Dem lawmaker mocks Trump for referring to himself as 'President T' South Carolina New Members 2019 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 CollinsGM layoffs show Congress played Americans with corporate tax cut Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February 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 CurbeloThe Hill's Morning Report — Will Trump strike a deal with Chuck and Nancy? GOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' Bipartisan group of lawmakers propose landmark carbon tax 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 GohmertGOP lawmaker accuses Soros of turning against Jews and helping take their property Soros rep: Fox News refuses to have me on House conservatives want ethics probe into Dems' handling of Kavanaugh allegations MORE (R-Texas) told Fox Business Network. “I appreciate his tweet this morning more than you can imagine.” 

-Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong contributed