House GOP leadership is discussing including border security language in an emergency spending bill that has drawn fire from top immigration hawks, including the Heritage Foundation and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), as being insufficient.
At issue is a bill sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) that was reported by voice vote through his committee in 2013.
A summary of the bill touts its requirement that the Department of Homeland Security develop a national strategy to secure the border and metrics to assess security. “Again, my bill that came out of my committee deals with that in an accountable way, with a two-year timeline to get operational control,” McCaul said on Fox News Sunday. “Most people want security first.”
But critics have ripped it for not mandating more concrete steps to achieve security.
“While it takes a good first step in requiring metrics to assess whether the borders are secured, there’s nothing that ensures that results are achieved,” Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said of McCaul’s bill on the Senate floor.
Discussion about inclusion of the McCaul bill, confirmed by several House GOP aides with knowledge of the deliberations, comes as top immigration hawks in Congress are growing increasingly wary of what will be included in the multi-billion dollar spending bill requested by President Obama.
Notably, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte wrote in an op-ed at Breitbart News that Obama can address the border crisis on his own without additional funding from Congress.
“That is what we’ve always been afraid of when it comes to any immigration reform,” a Senate GOP aide said. “The idea is, we’ll put a bunch of money into a bill and call that border security. But meanwhile, there is no assessment and evaluation or legitimate determination that the border is actually secure.”
The Senate GOP aide said that House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, had it “dead right” when he wrote for Breitbart News in a recent op-ed that the president doesn’t need new authorities or appropriations right now.
“As Roger Daltrey might have said, we won’t get Corker-Hoeven’ed again,” added a different congressional GOP aide, referring to the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” miracle amendment from Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) that secured support, as the bill seemed to be losing its chances of passing the Senate. Ironically, The Who’s frontman Daltrey is an opponent of Gang of Eight-style immigration policies in his native Britain.
In his Senate floor speech, Grassley also compared the McCaul bill to the Senate “Gang of Eight” legislation, noting that just like the Senate bill, “there’s no repercussions if the Secretary doesn’t actually submit a strategy.”
“And, there’s no verification or approval of the strategy by Congress,” Grassley said. “Instead, it relies on this or a future administration to make promises they won’t keep. It relies on them to fulfill the law, but we’ve seen time and again that they thumb their nose at bills we send them. They not only refuse to implement laws they like – such as ObamaCare – but they’ll refuse to carry this one out as well.”
Helping inform the discussions of how to handle Obama’s request is a special working group on the border crisis appointed by Speaker John Boehner. The group has been discussing revisions to a 2008 law designed to thwart human trafficking that some have said is making it more difficult for officials to process the influx of unaccompanied children seeking amnesty.