House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that the chamber will vote on immigration legislation on Thursday that would end family separations.
The second, more conservative bill excludes the Dreamers clause. Those defections - almost 1 in 5 GOP lawmakers - underscored the party's chasm over immigration and the election-year pressures Republicans face to stay true to districts that range from staunchly conservative to pro-immigrant.
One White House official said late Wednesday the immigration mess was unlikely to help his prospects.
Trump, who once again called on Congress to deal with the immigration issue, admitted that his wife Melania and his daughter Ivanka had weighed in on the decision, stressing that the issue was particularly important to them.
Trump's executive order requires the Pentagon to make military bases near the border available to detain immigrant families. He said without it, "you would have a run on this country the likes of which nobody has ever seen".
Trump and other administration officials, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, defended the policy up to the last minute, insisting that they enacted it in part because of a 2015 court order that cited a 1997 settlement known as the Flores agreement that says children can not be held in long-term detention, even with their parents.
But Democrats oppose them and it is uncertain that they will pass.
And in a tweet that seemed to undermine House leaders' efforts to round up votes, he questioned the goal of their legislation by suggesting it was doomed in the Senate anyway. Wolfe acknowledged that the White House would ultimately decide on the children's fate, but noted: "I can tell you definitively that is going to be policy".
The House of Representatives will vote on broader immigration bills which fund President Trump's proposed border wall and reduce legal migration.
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She and her husband also got criticized by some in the West Wing for being absent during hard moments; they were off on a ski vacation when the GOP's health care plan collapsed previous year.
Parents crossing the border illegally with children were earlier referred to immigration courts, rather than being detained.
As Trump hasn't backed down on prosecuting families caught crossing the U.S. border illegally, it's unclear what would happen to the children after the three-week period is up if their parents are still going through the courts.
"It is not a compromise", House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters. The Democrats who rallied Wednesday were there to support a bill by Rep. He said if Republicans can't get it done, "you end up looking like the gang that can't shoot straight".
On Wednesday, Trump reversed himself and took executive action aimed at curbing the separation of families. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has set up a hotline for parents to call after they are released from custody.
Passage was always a long shot.
It also suggests the government intends to hold the families indefinitely by challenging an existing statute, the 1997 Flores Settlement, that places a 20-day limit on how long children, alone or with their parents, can be detained. "It is unfortunate that Congress's failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law".
The president's abrupt about-face laid bare the administration's capricious use of executive power as it presses forward with a crackdown on illegal immigration, first ensnaring children in its "zero tolerance" prosecution policy, then coming up with a "stopgap" reprieve in the face of global condemnation.
The policy and its upshot stirred some of the most hostile reaction yet of any Trump initiative.