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White House Clarifies: Trump Misunderstood Question

President does support 'moderate' GOP immigration plan; he'd said no Friday morning
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 16, 2018 6:01 AM CDT
President Trump speaks to reporters at the White House, Friday, June 15, 2018.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – The White House has walked back comments made by President Trump on Friday that he would not sign a "moderate" immigration reform bill scheduled for a vote next week. A spokesman said Trump had misunderstood the question and does indeed back the measure, reports Politico. The tumult erupted as GOP leaders put the finishing touches on a pair of Republican bills: a hard-right proposal and a middle-ground plan negotiated by the party's conservative and moderate wings, with White House input. Only the compromise bill would open a door to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the US illegally as children ("Dreamers"), and reduce the separation of children from their parents when families are detained crossing the border. When asked about the bills Friday in a Fox News interview, Trump said, "I certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate one."

But a senior White House official later said Trump had misspoken and believed his Fox interviewer was asking about an effort by GOP moderates—abandoned for now—that would have forced votes on a handful of bills and likely led to House passage of liberal-leaning versions party leaders oppose, per the AP. The White House later put out a statement formally endorsing the "moderate" measure now in the works. Earlier this week, Paul Ryan had said the president was on board with it. Trump also weighed in by tweet, writing that any bill "MUST HAVE" provisions financing his proposed wall with Mexico and curbing the existing legal immigration system. Those items are included in the middle-ground package. Democrats are expected to solidly oppose both GOP bills, giving Republicans little leeway for losing support.

(Read more President Trump stories.)

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