House Republican leaders are frustrated that they had to pull their $659 million border bill on Thursday, after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) convinced enough Republicans to stand up for American workers and vote against a bill that did not explicitly prevent President Barack Obama from unilaterally granting work permits to millions of illegal immigrants.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who will become the new House Majority Whip on Friday, saw this vote as his first test. Acccording to National Journal, “Scalise’s new whip team was privately blaming” Sessions’ opposition for “causing last-second problems leading up the planned vote.”
Scalise was reportedly frustrated that many House Republicans “decided not to back the bill after being lobbied by Sessions,” because the bill “does not itself contain language to freeze Obama from expanding his unilateral deferrals.” A member of Scalise’s team told the outlet that when Sessions went to the House to oppose Obama’s amnesty and ensure American workers were protected, “it gummed everything up.”
“His comments carry great weight,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) told National Journal.
According to the Washington Examiner, “Conservative media helped that spread. A Breitbart story on the statement was featured prominently on the Drudge Report, and that didn’t make the whip’s job any easier.”
On Thursday morning, Sessions expressed opposition to both the House and Senate border bills, even after House Republicans decided to allow a vote on a companion bill. That bill, though, was written in a way that made it different from the original bills introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). The new language did not ban funding Obama’s executive actions and allowed the administration to actually grant work permits to illegal immigrants so long as they were paroled first.
“The House border supplemental contains no language on executive action and is the only bill that would receive consideration in the Senate,” Sessions declared. “The separate House measure on executive actions fails to place effective restrictions on the President’s ability to grant unlawful amnesty and work permits.”
Sessions later said that Congress should not adjourn until they stop Obama from enacting executive actions that would effectively “end immigration enforcement” in America.
Earlier in the week, Sessions asked Americans to melt down Congress’s phone lines to let Congress know that they “will not accept nullification of their laws passed by their elected representatives.” And that is what Americans were doing in the hours before Boehner decided to pull the bill on Thursday. House Republican leaders spent the rest of the day scrambling to revive the bill, which may be voted on on Friday, a day after Congress thought they would head home for their August recess.
As he has been throughout the immigration debate, Sessions was relentless this week in opposing Obama’s executive actions, saying there is “no middle ground” on such lawlessness, and Congress’s actions at this “perilous” time and “critical hour” would be of monumental importance in upholding the separation of powers.
“Our response now is of great import,” Sessions said on the Senate floor. “It will define the scope of executive and congressional powers for years to come. If President Obama is not stopped in this action, and he exceeds his powers by attempting to execute such a massive amnesty contrary to law, the moral authority for any immigration henceforth will be eviscerated.”
On Monday, Sessions said Congress was entering a “critical hour” this week, and members would face a time of choosing. He urged them to support Cruz’s bill to bar Obama from enacting grants of temporary amnesty to future illegal immigrants and said no bill should pass Congress that does not also prevent Obama from using federal funds to enact his executive amnesty. Sessions said any legislation that falls short of that would enable Obama to nullify federal immigration laws.
Sessions, whom Rush Limbaugh said was the “biggest enemy” of open-borders advocates, said he vehemently opposed Obama potentially granting work permits to millions more illegal immigrants, in contravention of plain law, because it would hurt American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds.
“Would it help poor working people all over America? Would it help African-Americans?” Sessions asked this week. “The experts tell us absolutely not.”
As Breitbart News noted, Sessions emphasized that the Congressional Budget Office determined that “if this kind of mass amnesty were to be adopted,” then “wages in America would fall for a decade.”