WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday shifted direction again, as he told Republican lawmakers struggling to craft an immigration bill they can pass next week to “stop wasting their time” until after the midterm elections in November.
Trump on Friday also pushed back against the furor over the separation of children from migrant parents by highlighting families who had a member killed by immigrants here illegally, saying those families are now “permanently separated from their loved ones.”
Trump’s new message in a string of tweets came after he had pushed Congress to pass legislation to address the border crisis caused by his zero tolerance and family separation policy — now suspended — and his canceling of an Obama-era executive order allowing children brought here illegally as children to stay in the country.
“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. 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 said in a string of tweets early Friday.
House Republican leaders, however, still plan to hold a vote next week on a bill that’s a compromise between conservative and more moderate members of their caucus, though it is expected to fail, as did the conservative-backed legislation that the House voted down Thursday.
“While leaders were supportive of both bills, there was never an expectation that either bill would be able to pass. The goal from the start was to give members the votes they need, while avoiding a discharge petition that would have handed the floor to Democrats,” said a senior GOP House source.
More moderate Republican lawmakers used that parliamentary maneuver to force House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to agree to votes on an existing conservative bill and the one crafted by the more moderate faction.
But Trump’s shifting positions left some Republicans confused.
Trump first said he couldn’t fix the border crisis himself, but then on Wednesday did just that, reversing his policy begun in April that led to separating families. And on Thursday, border patrol agents were told not to refer migrants illegally crossing the border for prosecution.
Trump also told lawmakers he backed both bills being voted. Yet on the morning of the votes he tweeted “what is the point” of the House passing the bills that would fail in the Senate because the 51 Republican senators needed 60 votes to succeed — and Democrats would vote no.
House Republican leaders went on to hold the first of the two scheduled votes, and the version backed by conservatives failed 193-231, as 41 Republicans and all Democrats withheld support.
When the GOP leadership determined the more moderate bill did not have enough support to pass amid sharp divisions between conservative and more moderate party members, Ryan at first postponed a vote until Friday and later pushed it into next week.
Meanwhile, in his Friday news conference, Trump stood with members of the group called “Angel Families” who lost a son or daughter to homicides or fatal auto accidents as they told their stories.
“You hear the other side, you never hear this side,” said Trump, adding, “they’re not separated for a day or two days, these are permanently separated because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens.”
After short talks by mothers and fathers about their sons and daughters killed in homicides or auto accidents by those in the country illegally, Trump said, “Our first duty and our highest loyalty is to citizens of our country. I will not rest until our borders are secure.”