The immigration gambit from House Republican "moderates" to force a vote on a bipartisan immigration measure looked promising, right up until this week, when the effort collapsed. Relieved Republican leaders in the chamber scheduled two votes next week on the issue: one on a far-right plan and another on a "compromise" measure.
Calling the latter a "compromise," however, isn't quite right. The bill, released yesterday, is the result of negotiations between conservative Republicans and not-quite-as-conservative Republicans. There was a bipartisan package touted by proponents of the GOP's recent discharge petition, but the bill that's headed to the floor is a far cry from that.
Republican leaders, however, believe their "compromise" plan has a chance of success, since it goes out of its way to meet Donald Trump's demands. It must've come as quite a surprise this morning when the president denounced the bill he's supposed to support.
President Donald Trump said Friday he would refuse to sign a new compromise Republican immigration bill that would bar his administration from implementing its policy of separating children from their parents or legal guardian at the border.In an interview Friday morning with "Fox and Friends," Trump said he was "looking at both" immigration proposals put forth by GOP members of the House -- the compromise bill, as well as a more conservative measure.But he added, "I certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate one."
Predictably, Trump's comments on Fox News roiled the debate and appeared to signal the end of the fight.
Which only made it more amazing when the White House later said Trump actually likes the bill he said he wouldn't sign.
President Donald Trump did not intend to suggest he would veto a House leadership-backed immigration bill during an interview Friday morning, White House aides are telling Republicans on Capitol Hill, according to a White House official and a senior House GOP aide.
The intra-party efforts to rally support for the bill are reportedly on hold, pending further presidential clarification.
For what it's worth, it's difficult to understand how the president could've become confused. The Fox host reminded Trump that there are two bills headed to the floor. According to the Washington Post, his White House had already drafted and circulated a Statement of Administration Policy -- an official White House position on the bill -- expressing support for the bill.
And yet, he said, "I certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate one." (Everyone misspeaks from time to time, but given the context, it's difficult to say "I certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate one" by accident.)
As for details of the plan, called the "Border Security and Immigration Reform Act," the measure creates a pathway for citizenship for Dreamers -- by way of a lengthy, point-based system -- while also approving billions of dollars for a border wall and cutting legal immigration, just as the White House has long demanded.
There's also a provision related to the administration separating immigrant children from their families -- which doesn't require a legislative remedy since Trump can stop doing this at any time -- though as NBC News reported, the language isn't the "fix" its supporters purport it to be.