The House passed legislation declaring President Obama’s executive amnesty “null and void” Thursday, in a vote that many call merely symbolic as the Democrat-led Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.
The measure passed 219 to 197, with three members voting present.
The legislation represents a first step in the GOP’s effort to fight the president’s sweeping, unilateral executive actions on immigration, which includes granting legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants.
Next week House Republican leadership plans to keep the government open by passing a so-called “cromnibus” bill, which would fund most of government through September 2015, but provide only short-term funding for the Department of Homeland Security. That would allow the incoming Congress to deal with DHS funding.
Before the vote House Speaker John Boehner said the legislation — introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) — sends a message. He encouraged the Senate to take it up.
“The president thumbed his nose at the American people with his actions on immigration and the House will make clear today that we are rejecting his unilateral actions,” Boehner told reporters.
“And then the United States Senate should take this bill up and pass it,” he continued. “For the outgoing Senate Democrat majority to do anything less would be an act of monumental arrogance. The American people elected us to heed their will and not to bow to the whims of a White House that regards the legislative process established by the Constitution as little more than a nuisance.”
Thursday afternoon House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte — whose committee has jurisdiction over immigration matters — praised Yoho’s legislation as a measure that “reaffirms the constitutional principles that only Congress has the power to write immigration laws and that the President must enforce those laws.”
“Mr. Yoho’s bill prevents President Obama or any future president from exempting or deferring the removal of categories of unlawful aliens except to the extent that the president is relying on his constitutional powers over foreign affairs or utilizing exceptions provided for in the bill for exceptional humanitarian and law enforcement circumstances,” Goodlatte said on the House Floor, according to prepared remarks.
Even in the highly unlikely event that the Senate were to pass the House measure, the White House issued a veto threat against it.
Nevertheless, Democrats and activists railed against the bill, calling it a ploy by Republicans to deport people and separate families. “Republicans are demanding that we deport hundreds of thousands of young DREAMers who know no country but the United States,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi charged Thursday morning.
Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, a representative from the National Council of La Raza, told reporters that the Latino community is looking at “the message [the GOP] is sending today.”
“Will they advance real solutions or will they leave town affirming once again, a mass deportation strategy?” Martínez-De-Castro asked. “If they go down that path, they should remember that this is not a fight between Republicans and the president. They will be picking a fight with the millions of American families who will finally be finding some relief.”