A sweeping House GOP immigration overhaul teetered on the brink of collapse Thursday as lawmakers struggled to move past an issue that has become politically fraught amid the dire images of families being separated at the border.
President Donald Trump’s sudden executive action over the border crisis stemmed some of the urgency for Congress to act. But House GOP leaders still were pulling out the stops to bring reluctant Republicans on board in hopes of resolving broader immigration issues ahead of the November midterm election. Passage of the bill was always a long shot, but failure may now come at a steeper price as Republicans — and Trump — have raised expectations that, as the party in control of Congress and the White House, they can fix the nation’s long-standing immigration problems.
“This is a bill that has consensus. This is a bill that the president supports. It’s a bill that could become law,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
The outcome remains uncertain despite a frenzied effort to pull in the final votes. House Speaker Paul Ryan took two dozen wavering lawmakers to the White House so Trump could cajole them into supporting the bill. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen trekked to the Capitol to meet privately with groups of GOP lawmakers. Ahead of voting Thursday, the results of the outreach were mixed. The measure is unlikely to pick up much, if any, Democratic support. The House will also vote on a more hard-line immigration proposal favored by conservatives. It is expected to fail.