House Republicans called off a vote on their $659 million emergency response to the border influx from Central America overwhelming immigration resources, unable to agree among themselves about what to do.
After first saying the bill was pulled, the GOP leaders called a caucus meeting for later Thursday after some Republicans said they wanted a vote.
The confusion showed the deep divisions between conservative and more moderate Republicans that has caused similar episodes in the past on other spending matters.
Meanwhile, the fate of a separate $2.7 billion Senate measure remained uncertain, with increased doubts that the Democratic majority will push for a final vote after the failure of the House to act.
Now politicians go home for five weeks to campaign for the November congressional elections without sending President Barack Obama legislation to address what both parties agree is a humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
The inability to compromise, let alone even pass any kind of legislation, showed the volatility of the immigration issue in America just over three months before the November elections.
Obama asked for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to strengthen border security and speed up the processing of the tens of thousands of arrivals -- many unaccompanied minors -- from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in the past 10 months.
House Republicans slashed that figure and added changes to a 2008 anti-trafficking law that would remove the guarantee of an immigration hearing for children arriving on their own from Central America.
Facing Democratic opposition, GOP leaders needed almost their entire majority caucus to support the bill.
However, many Republicans -- mostly conservatives -- argued against approving any new money and argued the measure failed to effectively limit Obama from acting on his own to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country.
They contend he has failed to enforce immigration laws by halting deportations of some child immigrants who arrived years earlier. And they now expect further unilateral steps signaled by the White House that would allow more undocumented immigrants to work in the United States.
After a partisan debate on the measure, an expected vote suddenly was canceled.
"This situation shows the intense concern within our conference -- and among the American people -- about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the President's refusal to faithfully execute our laws," the House Republican leadership said in a statement.
Shortly after, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted: "By pulling their own bill, the House GOP once again proves why the President must act on his own to solve problems."