Border crisis bill dies in House
Emergency legislation meant to address the border crisis abruptly was abandoned Thursday afternoon in the House, after Republican leaders were unable to round up enough support to pass it.
Fox News is told lawmakers plan to leave for the August recess without voting on the measure. Sources said GOP leaders were “way short” of the votes they needed, with conservative lawmakers joining Democrats in refusing to back the package.
The Senate still has a border bill on its plate, but without action in the House it appears Congress will not vote on any border legislation at least until after the five-week recess.
A joint statement from House Republican leaders said the “situation shows the intense concern within our conference — and among the American people — about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws.”
In the absence of legislation, Republicans urged Obama to act on his own to secure the borders and safely deport illegal immigrant children safely.
“We will continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing our country,” they said.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
ORIGINAL STORY …
House Republicans, already locked in an 11th-hour battle with Senate Democrats over border security funding, are making a last-ditch effort to prevent President Obama from wielding his executive pen to let millions more illegal immigrants stay in the country.
The House plans to vote on a bill Thursday afternoon that would prohibit Obama from expanding a policy that lets some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children stay. Amid reports that the administration is considering such an expansion, the bill by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., would specifically bar the president from broadening the 2012 policy.
“Such action would create an even greater incentive for more illegal crossings and make the crisis on our border even worse, and that would be a grave mistake,” House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday.
The vote was scheduled by Republican leaders as part of an effort to win conservative support for a separate, scaled-down package giving the Department of Homeland Security an immediate $659 million to address the border crisis and making other policy changes.
Both the funding bill and the executive action bill face dim chances in the Senate. But the latter reflects heightened concerns in the Republican caucus that the president will take unilateral action either during the August recess or shortly afterward to ease deportations.
The move comes a day after the House voted — mostly along party lines — to sue the president over his alleged abuse of executive actions.
Republicans say another illegal immigrant reprieve by the president would only exacerbate the surge of illegal immigrant children trekking to the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America.
“We as policy makers must face the reality that the president is openly planning to use executive actions to provide amnesty and work permits to millions without any lawful authority,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said in a statement on Thursday.
Sessions, though, voiced opposition to both the House and Senate proposals, arguing that the Senate would never take up the executive action bill being considered in the House. Sessions wants any bill addressing the president’s funding request to also address the executive action issue.
The House nevertheless plans to consider both measures Thursday afternoon – at which point the Senate will have to decide whether to proceed with its own bill, consider the House legislation or do nothing.
Democrats have accused Republicans of playing games, with their latest strategy.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said: “It is extraordinary that the House of Representatives, after failing for more than a year to reform our broken immigration reform system, would vote to restrict a law enforcement tool that the Department of Homeland Security uses to focus resources on key enforcement priorities like public safety and border security, and provide temporary relief from deportation for people who are low priorities for removal.”
The tensions have only reduced the likelihood that the House and Senate can agree on any border bill before leaving for the five-week summer recess.
Unlike the House bill, the Senate package would authorize $2.7 billion with no policy riders.
While 11 Republican senators helped the Senate bill meet a key procedural hurdle, enough of them — including at least one Democrat — said they would filibuster final passage if the measure is not amended. Like their House colleagues, they want changes to a 2008 law that would require the government to treat illegal immigrants apprehended at the border the same, regardless of country of origin.