Gardner and Coffman split votes on symbolic immigration bill

Two Colorado Republican congressmen who campaigned as advocates for immigration reform have split on their votes for a symbolic measure to overturn President Obama’s recent executive orders on immigration.

Current Congressman and Senator-elect Cory Gardner voted Thursday with most House Republicans in support of the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act. Rep. Mike Coffman broke ranks and voted against the measure, H.R. 5759, which was introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida. Coffman was one of only seven House Republicans to oppose the bill.

Coffman, once a hard-liner on immigration, softened his stance last year.

But in a statement on his nay vote on the Yoho bill, Coffman made clear his vote had nothing to do with support for Obama’s executive orders.

“I voted against H.R. 5797 because, although I strongly believe it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without consent of Congress, this legislation will only mislead the American people into believing that we are taking care of the problem when the only way to address President Obama’s overreach is either through the U.S. Supreme Court or through the appropriations process,” Coffman’s statement read.

A spokesman for Coffman’s office said that does not mean he supports a government shutdown.

Gardner, who represents the 4th Congressional District where nearly 29 percent of the voters are Latino, quickly followed his vote with a statement stressing he still favors immigration reform.

“Congress must act on immigration reform and both sides have to set aside political gamesmanship to achieve real solutions. … We owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system,” Gardner’s statement read.

Obama’s executive orders that prompted the Yoho bill would give protection to about 5 million migrants who are in the country without legal permission. That includes more than 60,000 in Colorado. The orders are planned to go into effect next spring.

Immigration and human rights groups expressed disappointment with those who supported the Yoho measure.

The bill is “nothing more than a symbolic attack on the common-sense policies recently announced by President Obama to restore balance to our immigration enforcement policies,” read a statement from Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on on Civil and Human Rights.

The bill, which passed 219-197, is symbolic because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has said he won’t take up the legislation in the Senate. The White House has also threatened to veto any such legislation.

Except for Coffman, the Colorado delegation voted along predictable party lines. Democratic representatives Diana DeGette, Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter all voted against the bill. Republican representatives Doug Lamborn, Scott Tipton and Gardner voted for it.

Nancy Lofholm: 970-256-1957, or

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Gardner and Coffman split votes on symbolic immigration bill
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