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Trump postpones congressional picnic amid immigration debate

The Hill logo The Hill 6/20/2018 Brett Samuels
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President Trump on Wednesday postponed this year's congressional picnic, citing the discussions over immigration policy and his administration's practice of separating families at the border.

"Because we're all so busy, and I just mentioned to the congressmen and senators in the room that we are going to cancel and postpone tomorrow's congressional picnic," Trump told reporters at the White House.

"We have a congressional picnic tomorrow, and I said, 'You know, it doesn't feel right to have a picnic for Congress when we're working on doing something very important,'" Trump added.

The decision avoids the sight of lawmakers and the president holding a picnic on the White House lawn while images of children separated from their parents at the border continue to dominate the news.

It also isn't the first time a president has postponed the annual gathering.

President Obama previously scrapped the 2013 picnic amid the debate over military action in Syria.

Trump as he was announcing the postponement said he would sign an executive order halting the separation of families who enter the U.S. illegally. He said he expects the order to be matched by legislation in Congress.

The reversal comes after the president and other administration officials had repeatedly declared "only Congress" could reverse the policy.

Trump has faced mounting pressure in recent days to put a stop to the practice, with lawmakers from both parties calling it "cruel," "inhumane" and "inconsistent with American values."

Of the picnic, he said "it didn't feel exactly right to me" to hold it.

"So we will be officially postponing the congressional picnic for tomorrow," Trump said. "We'll make it for another time when things are going extremely well. And they are going, for the country, extremely well ... but we want to solve this immigration problem."

The congressional picnic is an annual event where representatives and their families congregate on the White House lawn for food and other activities.

While Trump delayed the picnic over immigration, he is still scheduled to fly to Duluth, Minn., on Wednesday afternoon to hold a campaign rally.

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