Trump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist 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-LehtinenWomen lawmakers to play in Congressional Baseball Game following Title IX anniversary Press beat lawmakers to keep trophy in annual softball game K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers 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 CostellloHead of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts Lobbying world Overnight 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 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 ScaliseThe four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's tweets White House abruptly cancels Trump meeting with GOP leaders Capitol Police chief says threats against lawmakers increasing 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 RyanOcasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump 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: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet Trump campaign manager dismisses possible Sanford primary challenge SC Republican Mark Sanford considering primary challenge to Trump 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 CollinsMichael Caputo eyes congressional bid House ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers The Hill's Morning Report - Barr stiff-arms House following Senate grilling 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 CurbeloDemocratic lawmaker pushes back on Castro's call to repeal law making illegal border crossings a crime The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz 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 GohmertJudiciary issues blitz of subpoenas for Kushner, Sessions, Trump associates Conservatives ask Barr to lay out Trump's rationale for census question Gohmert calls Mueller an 'anal opening' ahead of testimony MORE (R-Texas) told Fox Business Network. “I appreciate his tweet this morning more than you can imagine.” 

-Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong contributed