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House Republicans will delay a vote on one of the immigration bills they planned to consider Thursday, as divisions within the GOP caucus threatened to sink the measure.
The chamber will instead vote on the so-called compromise Republican bill Friday, CNBC confirmed. The House still voted on a separate, more conservative immigration plan on Thursday afternoon. It failed in a 231-193 vote, with 40 Republicans opposing it.
GOP lawmakers appeared to want more time to discern what is in the second bill, which Republicans crafted to try to balance the demands of conservatives and more moderate lawmakers. GOP leaders thwarted an effort by some Republicans to force votes on potentially bipartisan immigration measures that President Donald Trump may not have supported.
"We will vote on [the compromise bill] tomorrow," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told NBC News, which first reported the delay. "All it is taking a little more time to explain it to members."
As of now, Congress appears no closer to passing an immigration overhaul in the months leading up to this year's midterm elections than it did in recent years of repeated stumbles. Even if a GOP immigration bill passes the House, it appears to have little to no chance of getting through the Senate.
Trump noted that fact Thursday morning when he questioned the "purpose" of voting on the legislation, potentially discouraging some lawmakers from supporting it. Only on Tuesday night, he told House Republicans he was "1,000%" behind their efforts to pass a bill.
The bill that the House plans to consider Friday would fund the president's proposed border wall, offer a path to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children and limit legal immigration. It would also attempt to codify an end to the Trump administration policy of separating children from parents at U.S. borders.
Earlier Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi disputed the "compromise" label put on a bill that she considers too cruel. The California Democrat said the GOP's bill "may be a compromise with the devil, but it's not a compromise with Democrats."
The conservative bill that failed Thursday would not offer a pathway to citizenship. It would cut legal immigration more dramatically than the other measure.
Both conservatives and more moderate GOP lawmakers expressed concerns with the compromise legislation Thursday. Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican and one of the leaders behind the effort to force separate immigration votes, reportedly said he would not back the bill.
Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican and chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, also showed doubts about the bill and said members wanted more information on it. Many on the House Republicans' right flank consider a pathway to citizenship a form of amnesty.
Rep. Ryan Costello, a Pennsylvania Republican who will not run for re-election, had a frank assessment of the bill's chances earlier in the day.
"I think that this is going to blow up. I think the bill's going to go down," he told MSNBC. He noted that lawmakers could start another push to force votes if the bill fails.
Asked Thursday what the House would do if both bills fizzled out, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, "We will cross that bridge if we get to it." The Wisconsin Republican appeared to lower expectations for the chamber passing a bill. He said the goal of GOP leaders was to stop the effort to force votes and allow members to "express themselves by voting for policies that they like."