WASHINGTON (AP) — Just when House Republicans needed Donald Trump’s backing the most — on their big immigration overhaul — he dashed off a presidential tweet on Friday saying they should quit wasting their time on it.
It’s hardly the first time the president has abandoned his allies in a moment of need. Over and over, Trump has proven himself a saboteur, willing to walk away from promises and blow up a deal, undermining the GOP agenda in Congress.
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“You just fear that tweet in the morning,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. The retiring Republican said members of Congress can’t help but think, “Oh no, how many policies will you undo by the day’s end? Because the day’s not over. Heck, it’s not even noon yet. How many times could he change his mind?”
On Capitol Hill on Friday, the mood was gloomy, particularly among the more centrist Republicans who have been pushing the party’s immigration compromise. That bill would provide $25 billion for Trump’s border wall and set new limits on family visas in favor of merit-based entry — but also create a path to citizenship for young “Dreamers.” It seemed to be losing — rather than gaining — support ahead of rescheduled voting next week. Trump had publicly backed the bill earlier in the week.
“It’s a horrifically chilling signal,” said another retiring Republican, Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who recently lost his primary election after frequently criticizing Trump.
“What the president just signaled is, ‘I’m not going to be there.’ And therefore I think people will take the cue,” Sanford said. “I think it makes immigration reform that much more unlikely.”