GOP leaders abruptly pulled a compromise immigration bill from consideration late Thursday, announcing the measure would not come to a vote before the weekend as initially planned -- throwing another wrench into Republican leaders' attempts to take action amid the controversy at the border.
A vote on an updated bill will take place next week instead, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, R-Texas, told reporters.
McCaul expressed confidence after an evening meeting with other top House Republicans that the compromise bill will ultimately secure the votes needed to pass, saying party leaders had "one of the best discussions ever” late Thursday.
The updated bill to be considered next week will include requirements that employers use E-Verify to check the legal status of their workers, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., told reporters.
The sudden move initially seemed to be a setback for congressional Republicans, who earlier in the day failed to pass a more conservative immigration proposal amid party divisions and disarray that has boiled over into public view.
But while the conservative immigration bill and compromise bill both were expected to fail going into the day, House leaders seemed more optimistic than ever late Thursday that the updated compromise measure has a good chance of passage.
The compromise measure was having trouble winning broad Republican support despite fully appropriating $25 billion for President Trump's border wall. The sticking point is that the legislation would also have provided a pathway to citizenship for some of the nearly 1.8 million so-called "Dreamers," illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age.
Adding to the legislative confusion, GOP lawmakers remained uncertain about the precise contents of the compromise bill Thursday afternoon, and scheduled the conference meeting later in the day as they scrambled to iron out the problems.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, lit into House Speaker Paul Ryan over discrepencies in the compromise bill on Wednesday, sources told Fox News.
Meadows later told reporters the bill was not "ready for prime time."'
"This is a bill that the president supports. It's a bill that could become law."
"This was a communication issue where the leadership compromise bill omitted key provisions that had been agreed upon beforehand," Meadows spokesman Ben Williamson said in a statement. "We are working to resolve it."
The conservative bill that was defeated, by a vote of 231-193, would have granted no pathway to citizenship for young "Dreamers" who arrived in the country illegally as children, curbed legal immigration and bolstered border security. It would have merely authorized $25 billion for the border wall, without actually appropriating the funds -- which the White House would prefer.
The conservative bill also would have provided some 700,000 recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program the ability to apply for indefinite renewals of legal nonimmigrant status every three years.
While the conservative bill was rejected with 41 Republicans and all Democrats opposing it, the fact it garnered 193 yes votes -- finishing significantly closer to the 215 required to pass legislation than many had predicted -- raised the question of whether House GOP leadership had actually underestimated its viability.
The confusion in the House is unfolding as tensions are running high over the debate on family separations at the border.
President Trump's sudden executive action over the border crisis stemmed some of the urgency for Congress to act on immigration. But House GOP leaders still were pulling out the stops to bring reluctant Republicans on board in hopes of resolving broader immigration issues ahead of the November midterm election.
Passage of a comprehensive immigration bill was always a long shot, but failure may now come at a steeper price as Republicans -- and Trump -- have raised expectations that, as the party in control of Congress and the White House, they can fix the nation's long-standing immigration problems.
"This is a bill that has consensus. This is a bill that the president supports. It's a bill that could become law," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
For their part, Democrats ripped the compromise bill in no uncertain terms.
"It is not a compromise," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters. "It may be a compromise with the devil, but it is not a compromise with the Democrats."
Even if Republicans managed to pass one of the bills, it would face long odds in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster. Republicans hold 51 seats in the Senate.
"What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms)," Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday. "Republicans must get rid of the stupid Filibuster Rule-it is killing you!"
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Anne Ball and The Associated Press contributed to this report.