Behind the scenes, Republicans are fuming over Trump's indecisiveness on immigration

  • Republicans have failed to cobble together enough votes for multiple immigration proposals, despite controlling the House.
  • Blame is spread all around, but a big chunk is being put on a chaotic and often unclear message from the White House.

WASHINGTON – The ongoing debate in Congress about how to solve a number of problems with the US immigration process is not going well.

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate cannot work together, stalling every effort. In the House, where Democratic support is not a necessity, the Republican conference is fractured and unable to pass uniquely different bills.

It makes matters even worse when President Donald Trump upends the system with a single tweet, making Republican lawmakers frustrated with his indecisiveness.

In the current makeup of the House, Trump holds the keys to any immigration legislation. House Speaker Paul Ryan was adamant about not putting anything on the floor he was not 100% sure the president would be willing to sign.

Many Republican lawmakers live and breathe by Trump’s words. And then Trump came to Capitol Hill to assuage concerns, declined to offer a full-throated endorsement of any specific bill, and spent the bulk of his time talking about other issues, including lobbing an insult at a respected member of the conference.

Days later, Trump made his true feelings known that he has no desire to address the issue immediately.

“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning. “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 administration officials have been all over the place on immigration

The Trump administration was all over the place on the issue of immigration. Multiple Republican aides expressed frustration to Business Insider with the varying positions taken by administration officials. Neither Trump nor Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ever appeared to be one the same page, confusing lawmakers, the aides said.

Rep. Mark Walker, who chairs the influential Republican Study Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that a handful of missed votes were due to lack of involvement from the White House.

“There was a lot of guys that were in a hair’s stretch one way or the other, but they wanted more from the administration before they are willing to commit,” he said.

In an interview with Business Insider, Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, a moderate Republican on the forefront of the “compromise” bill, said that senior White House adviser Stephen Miller is a stonewalling any progress on the issue.

“You will not get anything done. It will never pass the Congress without some element of compromise,” Coffman said. “And I just don’t think Stephen Miller – having met him and had the opportunity to talk to him once – is capable of advising the president how to navigate that terrain.”

But Sen. John Thune, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, told Business Insider that Trump is “just sorta recognising the political reality of the situation.”

“But that doesn’t mean, like [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] said that we shouldn’t be able to deal with this narrow issue that family reunification,” Thune added. “Whether there’s a broader immigration that can pass, I think that remains to be seen.”

Regardless, Republican leaders in the House are still moving forward with the second, more moderate bill.

The “compromise” bill could prove to become a huge embarrassment for House Speaker Paul Ryan. The hardline Goodlatte-McCaul immigration bill that failed on Thursday outperformed expectations, falling short by just 20 votes.

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