Republicans Protest Obama Immigration Order in Symbolic Vote

The U.S. House voted to block
President Barack Obama’s immigration orders in a symbolic move
meant to clear the way for action next week to fund the U.S.
government and avoid a shutdown.

The 219-197 vote today allowed Republicans to vent their
frustration over Obama’s decision to ease deportation rules for
millions of undocumented immigrants without holding up a
spending bill. Some Republicans wanted to attach the immigration
language to a government spending measure, which would have led
to a standoff with Democrats.

“The American people were crystal clear about their
dislike” of Obama’s action on immigration, third-ranking House
Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana said during today’s floor
debate. “This legislation says ‘you can’t do that, Mr.
President. There’s a rule of law.’”

Current government funding ends Dec. 11. House
Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said
today that he and his Senate counterpart, Democrat Barbara Mikulski, plan tomorrow to “sign off on the final deal” to
fund most of the government through September 2015.

A previously skeptical Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic
leader, signaled that the funding bill is likely to get her
members’ support if Boehner entertains some Democratic demands.

“Let us supply the votes to keep government open but we
can’t do that unless we have a bill worthy of our support,”
Pelosi of California told reporters today.

Democratic Opposition

Still, many Democrats spoke against the immigration measure

“Prior presidents were not met with such obstructionism,”
said Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, who has
negotiated with Republicans on immigration legislation. “He
cannot change the law and he has not done so. He does have the
authority to grant temporary relief to some.”

Boehner and his lieutenants in the House devised the two-step strategy to keep the dispute over immigration from causing
a repeat of the 16-day partial shutdown in October 2013, which
stemmed from a Republican bid to use spending legislation to
defund Obamacare.

The Senate doesn’t plan to take up today’s immigration
bill, and the Obama administration said the president would veto
the measure if it reached his desk.

The second step requires both chambers to pass a separate
measure funding almost all of the federal government.

“We think this is the most practical way to fight the
president’s actions,” Boehner of Ohio told reporters today.

Leaders’ Concession

In a minor concession to some conservatives, House leaders
are considering a revision that would move up a fight over
immigration funding to soon after Congress reconvenes in January
instead of in March.

Democrats want to cut from the spending bill at least 70
Republican-sponsored provisions that would poke holes in Obama’s
policies on the environment, health care and other matters,
Representative Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat, said yesterday.

“We are like Amtrak,” Mikulski of Maryland, the Senate
appropriations chair, said today. “We’ve left the station,
we’re headed to our destination and we will have some stops
along the way.”

Under Boehner’s approach, the Department of Homeland
Security, with primary responsibility for immigration policy,
would be funded only into March 2015.

Senate Majority

That would set up a clash over Obama’s immigration orders
early next year, when Boehner and incoming Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell will face more pressure from the expanded
Republican majority to retaliate against Obama’s orders.

Republicans won control of the Senate and increased their
House majority in November’s election.

Boehner said the Homeland Security funding strategy lets
Republicans keep “our leverage so that when we have
reinforcements in the Senate, we’re in the strongest position to
take additional action to fight the president’s unilateral

“There are three or four general arrows that are being
talked about. Leadership, to their credit, is listening,” said
Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican.

Some opponents of Boehner’s approach want funding for
immigration-related agencies to expire in January so the new
Republican-led Congress can defund parts of the agency tasked
with carrying out Obama’s orders. Boehner may agree to move the
date to February, according to a Republican aide who sought
anonymity to describe the private talks.

Obama Encouraged

Obama said yesterday he was encouraged by statements from
Boehner and McConnell about preventing another shutdown, “and I
take them at their word.”

“The one thing I can say for certain is that no one
benefits by the government shutting down,” the president told
members of the Business Roundtable in Washington.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would be
open to Boehner’s approach if Republican leaders could gather
enough House votes to advance it.

Still, some Republicans in Congress favor an immediate
fight over Obama’s immigration orders by holding up funding for
immigration-related agencies starting next week.

“The entire constitutional structure is at stake,”
Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who opposes the
funding measure, said today. “I don’t think it’s dawned on
people” and “I don’t think we should be timid about it.”

‘Show Vote’

At a news conference yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas
said passing a symbolic bill against the deportation orders
would be a “meaningless show vote.”

Cruz, who led the drive for the 2013 shutdown, said
Congress should pass a short-term spending bill that blocks
Obama’s immigration orders through funding for the Department of
Homeland Security and Department of Justice.

Cruz also said the Senate should block confirmations for
all non-national security presidential appointments.

Reid said the Senate won’t consider the House immigration
bill, H.R. 5759, which would deny the president authority to
protect undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from deportation.

Obama announced Nov. 20 that he would temporarily halt
deportations for about 5 million undocumented immigrants in the
U.S. His directive will defer for three years the deportation of
people who came to the U.S. as children as well as parents of
children who are citizens or legal permanent residents.

The Department of Homeland Security will streamline the
visa process for foreign workers and their employers and give
high-skilled workers more flexible work authorization.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Heidi Przybyla in Washington at;
Erik Wasson in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jodi Schneider at
Laurie Asseo

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