Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) is touting the passage of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill as the fulfillment of a promise he and House Republicans made to block President Barack Obama’s executive orders granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.
Late last month, in an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, Sessions, who chairs the powerful Rules Committee, had vowed that language stripping funding resources from Obama’s executive orders would be present in the bill when it came to the floor for a vote. House Republican leadership had been criticized by grassroots conservatives, who were concerned when the issue was not addressed during the debate over the CRomnibus bill at the beginning of December. Sessions told Breitbart Texas that, at that time, he had not seen a way to get a bill passed while the Democrats still had majority control in the Senate.
The CRomnibus bill established funding for the government, avoiding a shutdown, through the end of September 2015, with the exception of DHS, which was only funded through the end of February. H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, passed the House on Wednesday and funds DHS through September 2015.
The bill includes language that defunds not only Obama’s recent executive amnesty orders, but also the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that deferred deportation for children who came to the U.S. illegally and has been blamed as part of the “magnet” that encouraged the families and unaccompanied minor children who crossed the border illegally during this summer’s border crisis.
After the bill language was finalized and the House vote was finalized, Breitbart Texas reached out to Sessions again for comment. He praised his House colleagues and was glad that they had found language that was able to get the votes to pass and fulfill the promise they had made to the American people that they would defund Obama’s amnesty. “In December I worked with my Republican colleagues to guarantee that we had the opportunity to fight in early January against the President’s unilateral executive amnesty actions,” Sessions told Breitbart Texas. “This week we delivered on that promise. This bill provides Republicans with the opportunity to effectively fight against the president’s unwise, unconstitutional, and unlawful executive amnesty plan. I call on the Senate to take up this bill, pass it, and place it on the President’s desk.”
H.R. 240 did not get unanimous Republican support. As Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle reported, 26 Republicans joined with the Democrats to vote against the amendment that defunded DACA.
Overall, however, conservatives had a positive opinion about H.R. 240. According to a report by The Hill, Heritage Action announced on Monday that they would include it as a key vote on their legislative scorecard, and urged House members to vote in favor of the bill. Kemberlee Kaye at Legal Insurrection praised the bill for “mak[ing] enforcement a priority” regarding how it directed the appropriated funds, including allocating funds to hire more than 2,000 additional Border Patrol agents, implement E-verify, and technology improvements. Kaye also praised how the amendments to the bill would block any fees collected by United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) from being used to fund Obama’s executive amnesty. “[T]hose hoping the 114th Congress would make good on their promises to provide substantive immigration reform can rest easy knowing their elected officials have come out of the gate, guns blazing,” wrote Kaye.
The bill now heads to the Senate, and if the Senate passes it, to President Obama, who has vowed to veto it. The bill does appear to have a powerful ally from Texas in the Senate: Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has spoken favorably about the strategy for H.R. 240 in the past, tweeted the news about the bill passing the House and earlier in the week had retweeted a follower’s comment that “A [Presidential] Veto is no reason not to pass a bill.”
Congress and the President will have until the end of February to reach an agreement on the bill to avoid a government shutdown at DHS. Because of the national security functions of DHS, the vast majority of employees would be deemed “essential” and would still report to work in the event of a shutdown, but would not be paid until the shutdown was ended and Congress granted them back pay.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.