GOP Prepares Legislative Assault to Stop Obama on Immigration

Rebecca Shabad and Cristina Marcos, The Hill, January 9, 2015

The House plans to vote next week on legislation that would defund President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Republicans also plan to include language rolling back a 2012 order from the Obama administration that gave legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The two measures would be considered as part of a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September. An earlier government-funding measure approved last month only funded that agency through February.

The legislation is meant as an opening salvo against Obama’s move in November to give legal status to as many as 4.5 million illegal immigrants.

The GOP-led House Appropriations Committee unveiled the base spending bill for DHS on Friday afternoon. The bill will hit the House floor on Tuesday or Wednesday, along with three amendments.

One of those amendments, from Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), would defund Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

Mulvaney said Republicans debated in a closed-door meeting Friday morning whether to focus solely on Obama’s move to shield illegal immigrants from deportation, or whether to attack the president’s policies on multiple fronts.

Some more moderate, swing-district Republicans “wanted the rifle shot, . . . maybe didn’t want to muddy the waters,” Mulvaney said. “But there were other voices in the room who said they wanted a chance to get at DACA, to get at the Morton memos” that relaxed some immigration laws in 2011.

Language nullifying the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals Program (DACA), introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) last summer, will be offered as a separate amendment on the floor.

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Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), House Appropriations Committee chairman, said he was “very, very thrilled” that the bill will defund “amnesty.” He said the proposal takes into account that the Citizenship and Immigration Services is not funded through congressional appropriations, but through user fees.

“It takes a change in law, which this bill would do, that allows the Congress to say that these fees cannot be used,” said Rogers, who added how important it is to keep DHS funded after the latest terrorist attack in Paris.

“We want to send a bill to the president that defunds his amnesty program, but also very importantly funds the Department of Homeland Security–the Coast Guard, TSA, the Border Patrol, the ICE teams, the Secret Service. It’s a very dangerous time. I would wonder whether or not the president would have real deep misgivings about not signing a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security.”

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Even if the funding bill passed in the House, it’s unclear whether Senate Republicans would be able to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a likely Democratic filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said earlier this week the upper chamber would consider DHS funding in February, which could cause a time-crunch if the legislation is bounced back and forth between both houses.

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