The House approved a Department of Homeland Security appropriations package Wednesday that lawmakers say will block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
The $39.7 billion DHS appropriations bill to fund the department through fiscal year 2015 passed 236 – 191.
A series of amendments to the bill — aimed at blocking Obama’s executive actions — passed in advance of its final approval.
The amendment spearheaded by Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and Lou Barletta (R-PA) — intended to block any and all funding for President Obama’s executive amnesty announced on November 20, 2014, future similar policies, and the so-called Morton memos — passed 237 – 190. All Democrats present and seven Republicans voted against the measure.
“The president cannot rule by imperial fiat, because under the Constitution, Congress controls the purse strings,” Barletta said recently of the amendment. “He cannot circumvent the legislature and make up his own laws if Congress refuses to fund them.”
An amendment — offered by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) — to freeze Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by prohibiting funding for its continuation — also passed in a close vote, 218 – 209. All Democrats present voted against the measure as did 26 Republicans.
“Congress must fight to stop these unconstitutional actions from being implemented and today the House of Representatives is doing just that. We will consider several amendments to this bill that will stop President Obama’s executive overreach in its tracks. Two of the amendments will completely defund President Obama’s executive power grabs,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said on the House floor, highlighting the Aderholt and Blackburn amendments.
Both the Aderholt and Blackburn amendments were met with criticism and push-back from Democrats. Some moderate Republicans also voiced concern about voting against DACA, indeed more than two dozen voted against it.
“Republicans are using the floor of the House of Representatives to scare and confuse people and I believe actually to dissuade them from coming forward and receiving the relief provided by the president’s action,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-CA) argued Tuesday.
Another amendment, to ensure immigrants convicted of sex crimes and domestic violence are top priorities for ICE, offered by Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Martha Roby (R-AL) passed 278 – 149.
And two amendments expressing the sentiment of the Congress that lawful Americans should not be harmed by the hiring of illegal workers granted amnesty — sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) — and that the administration should stop putting the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of legal immigrants — sponsored by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), also passed with healthy margins.
The DHS package still faces an uphill battle, needing to pass the Senate and get a signature from Obama.
The White House, however, said earlier in the week that it would veto the DHS funding bill if amendments placing restrictions on his executive amnesties are included.
“If any of these poison pills are attached I expect the President of the United States to carry out his veto threat and I expect the Democrats to sustain that veto threat. I think there is an important number and it’s two-thirds and they don’t got it in the House of Representatives much less 60 votes in the Senate,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (R-) told reporters Tuesday.
According to Goodlatte, however, Republicans expect to continue that fight beyond Wednesday’s vote.
“Our fight against the President’s actions is not yet over,” he said in a statement after final passage of the bill. “In the coming days and weeks, we will work with our allies in the Senate to get a bill to the President’s desk. We cannot let one man nullify the law of the land with the stroke of his pen.”