Politics

This Time, Trump Undercuts Both House GOP Immigration Bills

President: ‘What is the purpose’ of chamber’s votes if Senate Dems oppose both?

Speaker Paul D. Ryan escorts President Donald Trump to the House Republican caucus meeting in the Capitol basement on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump, the leader of the Republican Party, Thursday morning gave already skeptical House GOP members even less incentive to support either immigration bill set for floor votes later in the day.

Conservatives are skeptical of a compromise measure crafted largely by Republican leaders during talks with the conference’s various factions. And moderates have long had heartburn about a conservative measure.

When Trump met with the entire House GOP caucus Tuesday night in the Capitol basement, moderates and leadership allies said he endorsed the compromise bill. Conservatives claimed he endorsed both bills and gave no real indication which one he wanted members to pass.

The White House echoed conservatives.

Watch: Trump Signs Order to End Family Separation Policy, Calls on Congress to Act

[In Midst of Migrant Crisis, Trump Calls Media ‘Almost Treasonous’]

“In his remarks, he endorsed both House immigration bills that build the wall, close legal loopholes, cancel the visa lottery, curb chain migration, and solve the border crisis and family separation issue by allowing for family detention and removal. He told the members, ‘I’m with you 100 percent,’” Raj Shah, principal deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement issued just after Trump left the Capitol.

That came after the president last Friday surprised his staff and GOP members alike when he drove a dagger into the compromise measure, telling Fox News he “certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate” bill. Hours later, Shah walked that back, saying his boss supported both bills.

Trump has opted against using his bully pulpit to endorse one bill and then put pressure on vulnerable Senate Democrats in red or purple states to help get it — or a slightly modified version — to his desk.

[House Immigration Compromise Faces Dim Prospects Amid Conservative Opposition]

Instead, he used his electronic bully pulpit on Thursday morning to shiv the compromise measure for a second time — and the conservative measure for the first time.

Trump suggested in a tweet that House Republicans are just wasting everyone’s time by trying to find enough votes to pass one or both of their dueling immigration overhaul measures later in the day.

“What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct?” he tweeted.

He also used the tweet to again urge Senate GOP leaders to “get rid of the stupid Filibuster Rule,” telling them “it is killing you!”

That, however, is just one of a suddenly growing list of issues on which he disagrees with Republican members. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes that rule change and says just about his entire caucus does, too.

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