House Republicans who will be returning to their constituents in August without having passed a bill to address the influx of illegal immigrants across the southern U.S. border are openly admitting they fear a backlash, according to The Hill.
Rank-and-file lawmakers think the recess will present President Barack Obama an opportunity to hammer the GOP for being obstructionist and ineffective in face of the crisis, which is angering an increasing number of Americans.
"It needs to be passed before we go to the August constituent work period. I don't think we ought to go home until we've dealt with it," Texas GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold told The Hill.
"The president has done a proposal, and if we don't act on that, or reject that, and don't come up with a solution of our own, public opinion will swing against us. And we've already got such great approval ratings."
"I was talking to one member who said, 'Yeah, if we don't do anything, I'm canceling all my town halls,'" he added.
A working group met Wednesday to present a number of recommendations for changes to border policy, but the House has yet to produce legislation that would link to the $1.5 billion spending bill currently on the table.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said Thursday that he did not expect a border bill to be released until the beginning of next week at the earliest, according to The Hill.
Some of the delay is related to the ongoing rift between tea party lawmakers and the leadership over the best political strategy for approaching the crisis.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, met with a group of more than 20 House conservatives on Wednesday and proposed the chamber not offer a package on the border. Some argue that by not acting it will force the president to address the issue and further cement the image that it was a problem of his own making, according to The Hill.
House Speaker John Boehner, however, refuses to follow that approach. The leadership is concerned that inaction would leave the party exposed for the month of August and vulnerable to being blamed for agencies running out of cash to address the problem.
"I've been pretty clear that taking some action to solve this problem is in order," Boehner said, according to The Hill.
Leadership aides told The Hill that there was a meeting of the GOP conference on Friday to continue Wednesday's discussion.
"There's a growing concern that we need to do something," Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany told The Hill. "The concern is that nothing will happen, and we'll go into the August recess, and something bad happens. And Congress hasn't done anything."
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