Just hours before House GOP leadership abruptly changed course on the border crisis bill, moving to allow a vote on a second bill that addresses President Obama’s “deferred” prosecution of illegal aliens, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) met with House conservatives on the issue.
Leaving the meeting Wednesday, Cruz signaled optimism. “I am encouraged. I think it is likely that the House is going to vote on the bill to eliminate President Obama’s authority to grant amnesty because of the humanitarian crisis we’re facing right now,” Cruz told reporters after the event.
About a dozen House conservatives joined Cruz in his Senate office for pizza and beer, including Reps. Steve King (R-IA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
The catch in the leadership plan is that the bill sought by Cruz will only come to a vote if the other measure passes first, and it will remain its own separate piece of legislation. Neither bill, though, is expected to become law.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) bill offered by leadership is also slightly different than the one proposed by Blackburn and Cruz.
Exiting the meeting Wednesday night, House conservatives explained that they were not pleased with the border spending bill originally offered by House leadership. “There is not a lot of support for the leadership bill,” Bachmann said, doubting its passage. “Once we actually got to read the bill … we’re not getting what we were told we were going to be getting.”
The original Cruz DACA bill, however, earned support from conservative hardliners on immigration policy. “That we can all vote for. That, I think, will pass quite easily,” Bachmann said. “But I do think that the Speaker’s bill is in big trouble.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who also attended the Cruz meeting, said that as of that time, Boehner had not rallied 218 votes from Republicans to pass the spending bill, but he signaled support for a DACA bill. “The bill still does not solve the issue of border security, but it still makes it a little bit better,” he said.
King said that he was worried that Obama would grant amnesty to over five million illegal immigrants while Congress was on recess in August. If that happened, King said that he hoped Republicans would come back to Washington for a special session to respond. “I’m ready. I’d like to see how many Republicans…I’d like to see some of the Democrats that are ready, too,” King said.
Cruz, however, appeared encouraged with what he was hearing about the legislation introduced by the House. “I believe…I think the House will stand up and lead tomorrow, and if they do, if the House stands up and leads and eliminates President Obama’s amnesty, then the burden will shift to the Senate,” he asserted.