House Republicans will postpone a vote on their immigration compromise legislation until Friday, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters as he left a leadership meeting Thursday afternoon.
The news came as lawmakers were scrambling to find the votes and answer an onslaught of rank-and-file member questions about what the compromise legislation does.
The bill would provide President Donald Trump with $25 billion in border security including wall funding in exchange for a path to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump ended but has been held up in legal limbo. The bill was negotiated among moderates, conservatives and leadership, but has caused heartburn among all flanks of the conference. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have expressed concerns with the bill as have members of the moderate wing.
Majority Whip Steve Scalise had made the case for delaying the vote Wednesday night -- and he lost the argument, multiple aides told CNN. House Speaker Paul Ryan has known where the bill was headed. It wasn't expected to pass and he wanted to have the vote and move on. But, after the first vote series of the day Thursday, it became clear that rank-and-file members were a mix of confused and uncomfortable with what they knew about the compromise bill. Scalise seized on that and took it back to leadership to make the case again, and the vote was moved.
The move does little to suggest that the bill will pass. It doesn't have the votes, multiple aides have said.
"Doesn't feel great," Rep. Tom Cole, a member of the whip team and an ally of GOP leadership said about the prospects for passage.
News of the delay came at the same time the US House of Representatives failed by 193-231 to pass another, more conservative immigration bill, known as the Goodlatte bill after House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a conservative Republican from Virginia.
With no Democrats voting for the bill, Republicans needed enough of their own members to get to a majority but failed to cross that threshold.