A week before a possible government shutdown, the House of Representatives is spending time on a Republican bill that doesn’t fund any federal agencies, and even its supporters admit is already dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate.
House Republican leaders are still building support for their spending bill, and are eying a vote next week — potentially on Dec. 11, the same day as the deadline when agencies run out of funds. But as time is running out to avoid a potential crisis, the House voted Thursday to back a measure that’s designed to let GOP opponents of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration vent their frustrations.
The “Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act” was drafted by Florida Republican Rep. Ted Yoho. It states that the executive branch of government does not have the authority to stop deportations of certain categories of undocumented workers in the United States. It cleared the House in a 219-197 vote that was almost entirely along party lines.
But this bill can’t undo what the President has done, and even those conservatives who voted for it say it’s simply a messaging bill to assert Congress’ role in passing new laws.
Many House conservatives have been pressing Speaker John Boehner to go further in responding to the President’s immigration policy, insisting that the House strip away any money in the annual government spending bill so it can prevent the Administration from carrying out its plans.
But Boehner and other GOP leaders don’t want to risk another shutdown, after the one last fall inflicted major political damage to the party. Instead Republican leaders argue that a vote on this separate bill puts the House on record, and positions them to fight back against the President’s executive orders next year, when the GOP controls both the House and the Senate.
Those hardliners who want to use the spending bill as leverage in the immigration fight say they back anything that disapproves of the President’s actions. But it’s not enough for them to get on board with the leaders’ plan to postpone any fight using the legislative branch’s power of the purse until next year.
“It’s a good bill, but I think it has nothing to do with the larger discussion,” South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday.
Obama said at a college summit Thursday that the House GOP bill would “force talented young people … to leave our country.”
“It does not make sense for us to want to push talent out rather than make sure that they’re staying here and contributing to society,” he said. “Rather than deport students and separate families and make it harder for law enforcement to do its job, I just want Congress to work with us to fix a broken immigration system.”