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Fate unclear as House sets Wednesday vote on compromise immigration bill

Changes may still be made to the legislation. GOP leaders are weighing additional provisions to attract more support from conservatives.
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WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that the House will vote Wednesday on the compromise immigration bill ahead of its July 4 recess, and that the measure addresses the separation of migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"We've made it extremely clear we want to keep families together and we want to secure the border and enforce our laws," the Wisconsin Republican told reporters.

But the prospects of passing the legislation remains slim as many conservatives are not supportive of the bill.

Hours after Republicans suggested that changes could still be made to the legislation, they decided to exclude two provisions that were part of a 116-page amendment filed late Monday by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, that includes provisions on E-verify and agricultural work visas.

The measure would have ensured that all new employees are determined eligible to work in the U.S. through the E-verify system. It would also have established a new visa program for foreign workers looking for jobs in the agricultural industry, allowing American companies to hire 450,000 agricultural foreign workers for only three years if they can't find enough U.S. workers to fill those jobs.

Two moderate Republicans — Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. — said that the provisions were not added to the overall bill because it became evident that they wouldn't garner enough support to pass the measure.

The compromise bill would provide nearly $25 billion in funding for Trump's border wall, limit legal and illegal immigration, provide protection from deportation and a path to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and reverse President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy, which has resulted in undocumented families being detained in separate facilities.

Trump had called Goodlatte toward the end of the House Republicans’ closed-door conference meeting Tuesday morning to express support for the bill, said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. On Friday, the president suggested that the House shouldn't move forward with the measure because it would just be blocked by Democrats in the Senate — something that remains very much a possibility.

House Republicans did discuss the possibility of doing a standalone bill only focused on the families at the border inside their meeting, which Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., said gave him the impression that leadership is not confident that the compromise bill can pass.

Meanwhile, some voiced frustration that they haven't heard from Trump publicly on the latest in negotiations even though he spoke to Goodlatte on Tuesday.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said Tuesday that he plans to vote against the compromise bill and suggested that the president's lack of support for passing any immigration proposal made it uncomfortable to cast such a risky vote.

"The other thing was the administration’s level of involvement, and there was a lot of guys that were within a hair’s breadth one way or another but they wanted more from the administration before they were willing to commit," Walker said.

Ryan said Tuesday that if the compromise bill fails, they would pursue a narrow bill to address the situation at the border. It remains unclear when the House would vote on that bill since they will be on recess next week.