House rejects conservative immigration bill, delays vote on GOP compromise measure

The House on Thursday voted down a conservative immigration bill, and House GOP leaders announced that a vote on a Republican compromise measure would be postponed until Friday.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the schedule change was intended to give members more time to review the legislation, after some members “said they had some questions on what’s in the bill.” Two leadership sources said that there had been confusion among lawmakers about the contents of the compromise measure.

House Republicans planned to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss the bill and vote on the measure Friday morning.

The decision to postpone came as lawmakers rejected legislation authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and favored by conservatives that would have authorized — but not appropriated — government funding for a border wall. The measure, which failed by a vote of with a final vote of 193-231, also would not have provided a pathway to citizenship for those eligible under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

As part of immigration negotiations between moderate Republicans and members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, leadership agreed to offer the vote on the Goodlatte bill along with a vote on a compromise immigration measure which has now been delayed until Friday.

The compromise measure would provide $25 billion in advanced funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall and border technology, provide an eventual pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and keep undocumented children and their parents together while in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security. The bill would also eliminate the government’s visa lottery and limits family-based migration and instead reallocates visas to merit-based programs.

Lawmakers were skeptical Thursday that the compromise bill had a chance of passing, with Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., taking pains to lower expectations.

“Let’s take a step back here and remember why we’re here this week with this process,” he said at his weekly press conference. “Our goal was to prevent a discharge petition from reaching the floor because a discharge petition would have brought legislation to the floor that the president would have surely vetoed. It would have been an exercise in futility. A lot of our members want to be able to express themselves by voting for the policies that they like.”

Asked what plan C would be if neither bill were to pass, Ryan said, “We will cross that bridge if we get to it.”

President Trump even tweeted that passing the bills could be a waste of time anyway because of the uphill climb in the Senate as a 60-vote filibuster would apply to such legislation.

“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 (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms). Republicans must get rid of the stupid Filibuster Rule — it is killing you!” Trump tweeted.

Reacting to the president’s comment, three senior GOP sources told NBC News that they didn’t view the tweet as that damaging to the compromise bill’s chances because both bills were already expected to fail.

A day earlier, Trump signed an executive order temporarily ending his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border even though officials said that the president didn’t have the power to do so unilaterally.

The president appeared to make several efforts this week to lobby support for the House GOP’s effort — he came to meet with them on Capitol Hill, he invited them to the White House for a discussion and he dispatched some of his Cabinet officials to win over lawmakers. But many Republicans were confused and dissatisfied with what they described as the president’s lackluster messaging on the issue, with many saying he had not been clear about which bill he supported.

In addition, the House and Senate were on two separate pages, with Ryan trying to nix the idea of a stand-alone bill addressing family separation in favor of a more comprehensive immigration measure, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., advocating the opposite.

The decision to hold the immigration votes in the House stemmed from negotiations that evolved from moderate Republicans’ discharge petition, a House procedure that could forced floor votes on the issue. Those moderates fell two signatures short of the 218 needed to trigger the process. Due to House rules, if supporters of the discharge petition want to try again, the failure of the Goodlatte bill — which was part of the petition — means they will now need to start the petition from scratch.

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