Politics

Trump to GOP: Stop ‘Wasting’ Time on Immigration

President, Schumer, Ryan agree current Congress unlikely to pass a bill

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

Updated 8:49 a.m. | With a compromise measure stalled in the House, President Donald Trump on Friday urged Republican lawmakers to “stop wasting their time” pursuing an immigration overhaul bill until after November’s midterm elections.

That House immigration bill is merely a compromise among the chamber’s GOP leadership and its various conservative and moderate factions. It is not expected to get any Democratic support and appears to lack the GOP votes to pass — like a conservative measure that flopped on the floor Thursday.

The president suggested Thursday in a tweet that his party should drop its efforts to pass any immigration bill, writing “what’s the purpose” of even having votes if Senate Democrats oppose both House bills.

[‘Zero Tolerance’ Remains in Effect as First Lady Visits Migrant Kids]

He was even more blunt on Friday morning.

“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” he wrote after House Republican leaders on Thursday evening delayed votes on their compromise measure to sometime next week.

The president continued hammering Democrats over the immigration issue, signaling he views it as a major — if not the top – campaign-trail message he will use as a bludgeon to fire up conservatives going into midterm season.

He accused Democratic members with “just playing games” and having “no intention” of helping Republicans “to solves this decades old problem.” Trump told Republicans the party could pass “great legislation” on its own following a “Red Wave!” in November.

The tweet shows how the immigration debate has brought together three officials who typically do not all agree on any given matter: Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

The Senate’s top Democrat headed to the floor Wednesday morning and said he the odds of both chambers being able to get a bill to the president’s desk are “just about zero.”

And Ryan a day later the soon-to-retire GOP speaker acknowledged he is not sure if the current House Republican caucus can pass any immigration bill, telling reporters: “I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Watch: Ryan Says He Doesn’t Know if an Immigration Bill Can Pass

GOP Sen. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who lost his reelection primary after clashing with Trump, was asked Friday morning if he thinks the House immigration compromise bill is "dead in the water."

[House GOP Immigration Drama and Intrigue Mushrooms]

"That's what I think, based on the president's comments," he told CNN.

"I don't know how it happens. Without the president being out front, without the president having their backs," members are not going to vote for controversial legislation in an election year, the former Palemtto State governor said.

So why didn't Trump get behind one of the two GOP bills?

"It's well demonstrated that he has a short attention span and moves on to the next item," Sanford said after Trump mocked him Tuesday evening in a closed-door House GOP conference meeting.

The president's tweet appears a signal he wants to turn the midterms into a referendum on immigration - and likely other issues, like trade and the health of the U.S. economy.

"I think it would be a mistake to do that," Sanford said. "You don't know what's going to happen in the election," he added, noting the GOP "coalition" of holding the White House and both chambers "may disappear in November."

Why Are the Dreamers Called the Dreamers?

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.