Trump to talk immigration with House Republicans on Tuesday

Trump to talk immigration with House Republicans on Tuesday
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

President Donald Trump will head to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening to discuss immigration with the House Republican conference, three sources tell CNN.

The news, which was first reported by Politico, comes after a tumultuous Friday where lawmakers were thrown into a spell of confusion after Trump initially said in a Fox News interview that he wouldn’t support a compromise immigration bill that had taken weeks to negotiate.

After an entire day of back and forth, the White House finally released an official statement Friday evening saying Trump would support the legislation if it passed the House and Senate and made it to his desk to be signed.

But Trump’s visit to the GOP conference signals that there is still work to do before the immigration bill, which includes a legal status for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and money for Trump’s border wall, could pass the chamber. Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus have expressed concerns with the bill, as have moderate members who helped negotiate the plan but want to do more to ensure that children are not separated from their parents at the border.

Carlos Curbelo, one of the moderate members who helped negotiate the bill told reporters last week that he was still “seeking some modifications to some sections that I’ve already gone through, and that process will continue.”

Trump has long been considered the linchpin to any successful push for immigration legislation. Having run a campaign that centered on building a border wall and cracking down on illegal immigration, Trump’s backing is widely viewed within the Republican conference — even among conservatives — as a key litmus test for whether the right flank of the conference will support a bill. With Trump’s support, leadership is closer. Without it — as members thought they might be for several hours Friday — any immigration bill doesn’t stand much a chance of passing in the House. Ahead of the midterm election, few members want to be seen as crossing Trump if they need base voters in their district to show up to the polls in November.

Immigration has long divided Republicans in the House, whose districts vary greatly. While the compromise legislation is the closest lawmakers have been in years to pushing forward, it’s unclear if it will have enough votes.

The compromise bill and a more conservative immigration plan could get a vote as early as next week.

The President has offered little clarity on his support for the bills, which has complicated the matter even more. On Friday, he initially said in a Fox News interview that he “certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” but he hardly offered a full-throated endorsement of the alternative.

About nine hours later, a White House spokesman sought to clarify his position.

“The President fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill. In this morning’s interview, he was commenting on the discharge petition in the House, and not the new package,” deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement. “He would sign either the Goodlatte or the leadership bills.”

The President himself will have the opportunity to explain his views Tuesday evening at the House Republican conference meeting.