- House GOP Pushes Back on Immigration
- March 18, 2015
- Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
- This week, House GOPers took their first aggressive steps to push back against President Obama’s executive action on immigration. In an effort to placate disgruntled House conservatives, Republicans voted to dismantle a series of White House immigration actions ranging back to Obama's first term. Among them are measures from 2012 that defers deportation for undocumented immigrants brought to the country at a young age, and Obama's executive action from last year that will grant temporary work status and deportation deferrals to millions more immigrants.
These measures were tacked on to a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year, setting up a showdown both Republicans and Democrats hope to exploit. Each side has already cautioned the other about endangering national security for political gain, some pointing to the terror attack against a magazine in Paris as reason enough to quickly fund DHS.
On Wednesday, the House voted 236 to 191 to move the bill on to the Senate.
The legislation, which enjoyed broad support from the House Republican Conference but from few Democrats, did prompt resistance from some moderates who were concerned that the legislation goes too far.
The issue that was most controversial was an amendment from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The 2012 directive has stopped some 600,000 young undocumented immigrants from being deported and allowed them to work legally.
Ultimately, 26 House Republicans voted against the measure killing DACA — mostly moderates on immigration that represent states with significant Latino populations, such as California, Florida, Nevada, and New York. The amendment passed narrowly, by a vote of 218-209.
Meanwhile, while the House acted, Senate Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach, with many Republicans keeping their powder dry.
Senate Democrats are less reticent. Two senior Senate Democratic aides said that the House's plan would not pass the upper chamber, where Republicans will need to cull at least six Democratic votes for passage.
For now, both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate say they will not use the immigration bill to shut down DHS. They say the department will be funded by February 28, one way or another.
More than 85 percent of DHS employees, particularly those dealing with security and border protection, are considered essential and would show up to work, albeit largely without pay, even if the funding lapses when the short-term bill runs out at the end of February.
Even if the Senate manages to pass the House bill, it is certain Obama won't sign it if it defunds his new program, one of which immigration advocates and Democrats heavily approve. This sets up yet another showdown between the legislative branch and Obama, who has threatened to use his veto power to thwart Republican bills.