Trump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration 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-LehtinenComstock joins K Street firm Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington 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 CostellloOvernight Energy: Park Service closing Joshua Tree after shutdown damage | Dems deliver trash from parks to White House | Dems offer bills to block offshore drilling | Oil lobby worries about Trump trade fight Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch 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 unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Texas man with politician hit list, illegally 3D printed rifle sentenced to eight years The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? 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 RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration 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 SanfordEndorsing Trump isn’t the easiest decision for some Republicans Mark Sanford warns US could see ‘Hitler-like character’ in the future House passes year-end tax package 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 CollinsHouse Dems release 2020 GOP 'retirements to watch' for Fighting AIDS domestically and globally means pushing more evidence-based services House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 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 CurbeloTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor GOP rep will ‘probably’ support measure to back Paris climate pact 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 GohmertTrump met with group led by Ginni Thomas at White House: report House passes bill expressing support for NATO The Memo: Trump veers between hard-liner, dealmaker on shutdown MORE (R-Texas) told Fox Business Network. “I appreciate his tweet this morning more than you can imagine.” 

-Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong contributed