President Donald Trump said Friday that Republicans should wait until after the November midterm elections to pass immigration legislation – undercutting GOP leadership – but Capitol Hill negotiators say they’ll continue working through the weekend on a bill they hope can pass next week despite the tweet.
“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
Trump’s comments come as House Republicans have been struggling to wrangle support for a comprehensive immigration bill. On Thursday, Republicans decided to postpone a vote on it for the second time in less than a day. Senate and House leaders have also been trying to find a bill that would end family separations at the border.
In a series of tweets Friday morning, Trump said electing more Republicans in November would result in a comprehensive immigration bill.
“Elect more Republicans in November and we will pass the finest, fairest and most comprehensive Immigration Bills anywhere in the world. Right now we have the dumbest and the worst,” he tweeted. “Dems are doing nothing but Obstructing. Remember their motto, RESIST! Ours is PRODUCE!”
Earlier this week, Trump told Republican lawmakers in a closed-door meeting that he was “100%” behind their push to pass an immigration bill, according to Rep. Mark Meadows and other Republicans in the room.
House Republicans on Capitol Hill on Friday said they were surprised by Trump’s tweet and while those involved with negotiations vowed to continue, others voiced frustration with the President undercutting their plans.
South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford said Trump’s tweets Friday amounted to “game over” for any immigration bill being considered.
“It takes the wind out of the sails in what might have been a fairly productive week in terms of looking for a compromise,” Sanford told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.”
“What I would like is for the President to have the same message,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, a vulnerable Republican from Colorado facing midterm pressures over immigration issues. He added, “I get that it’s tough in the Senate with the 60 vote requirement, uh, but that is no reason not to try.”
But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, says GOP members are still marching forward with plans to vote next week.
“We’ll work through the weekend and you’ll see that bill on the floor next week,” said the California Republican, whom House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed as his replacement when he retires at the end of his term.
Deputy Majority Whip Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, told reporters that the politics of immigration “is the same as it ever was”
Asked why Republicans don’t stop wasting their time after Trump’s tweet, McHenry responded “that’s a very good question.”
He then added “votes were pledged in order to turn off the discharge petition,” a reference to the procedural maneuver moderates had threatened to use to force a vote on a series of immigration bills.
“There was a pledge that was made and the intention is to fulfill it,” McHenry said.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly, Manu Raju and Tal Kopan contributed to this report.