House GOP Lauds Passage of 'Responsible' Border Bill
House Republicans praised the passing of legislation that would give President Barack Obama $694 million to address the illegal immigration crisis and that could lead to deporting more than 700,000 migrants who had been granted temporary work permits under a 2012 program created by executive order.
Speaker John Boehner called the legislation, which passed on a 223-189 vote, "responsible." Four Republicans voted against the bill, while only one Democrat supported it.
"It will help secure our border and ensure the safe and swift return of these children to their home countries," Boehner said. "If President Obama needs these resources, he will urge Senate Democrats to put politics aside, come back to work, and approve our bill.
"There are also steps the president can take to address this crisis within the law, and without further legislative action," Boehner added. "Every day the president and his party fail to act is another day this crisis continues."
Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar told Newsmax that he "begrudgingly" supported the bill because it provided $35 million to reimburse border states whose governors call out the National Guard to deal with the deluge of illegal immigrants who have stormed the United States in record numbers in recent months.
"We provided money to states so governors can activate the National Guard from their standpoint, not the federal government's," he said.
The Grand Canyon State got hit hard last year during the partial federal shutdown when the Obama administration closed national parks, Gosar said.
"We can expedite the handling of minors, which is a much better policy than we have currently," the congressman added. "It still has some flaws, but it's a step in the right direction."
The legislation, which also allows for the United States to deport illegal minors from Central America without a hearing, was revised after Boehner pulled it from a vote Thursday night.
The move occurred after conservative Republicans balked at the bill. They charged that it did little to enhance border security and to prevent Obama from expanding deportation relief to more illegal immigrants.
The withdrawal came on the day that the House was expected to start its six-week summer recess. Republicans vowed to remain in Washington until they passed a bill.
Besides the $35 million provided for National Guard duty, the revised funding bill also redirects $40 million in foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to help return illegals to their countries.
In a separate action later Friday, the House approved legislation 216-192 that would shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Obama created with his executive order.
The legislation could put more than 700,000 immigrants who've received temporary work permits in line for deportation. It also would block Obama from awarding work permits to other immigrants here illegally.
The Democratic-led Senate is not expected to consider either House bill. Republicans blocked a $2.7 billion Democratic funding measure on Thursday — after which the chamber began its recess.
More than 57,000 illegal minors have been detained at the South Texas border between Oct. 1 and June 15. The figure is double the total from the same period the previous year. The illegals cross the Rio Grande River from Mexico, coming from the Central American countries.
The Obama administration now estimates that as many as 90,000 could be apprehended by the end of September.
Obama condemned the Republican legislation earlier Friday and warned that he would act unilaterally, possibly while Congress is in recess.
"They’re not even trying to actually solve the problem; this is a message bill" that Republicans can take to their constituents, Obama said at the White House.
The approved legislation also includes changes sought by some conservatives who met with Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. The Senate Republicans opposed the original bill and discussed strategies on it because it did not do enough to secure the border.
Sessions, who has long opposed immigration reform, commended House Republicans for their efforts and vowed to battle Senate Democrats to win passage of the bill.
"While the Republican House has voted to protect our constituents and our Constitution, Senate Democrats have abandoned both in the face of this clear and present danger," Sessions said. "Now the fight in the Senate is only beginning. We will fight, and keep fighting, for its passage."
House members said they supported the revised bill because Obama was not acting responsibly to solve the crisis.
"In the absence of presidential leadership, the House of Representatives is acting responsibly to address these challenges in a targeted and common sense manner," Georgia Rep. Tom Price said. "We are providing support for enforcement measures and addressing shortfalls in existing law."
While the funding provided by the legislation is "limited," Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole said the bill "makes reforms that help change the incentive of those attempting to stay in America illegally by speeding up the process for returning them to their countries of origin."
Cole noted that the measure included an amendment by Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers barring the administration from using military bases to house illegal minors.
In May, the Obama administration sent more than 3,600 illegals to a shelter the Fort Sill Army Base in Cole's district. Officials announced earlier this month that as many as 5,000 more would be eventually be sent there.
Similar shelters for the minors are on military bases in Texas and California.
Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling said that House Republicans acted because "sadly, the president is not even willing to view the border situation with his own eyes, let alone do something substantive about it."
Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon cheered that the funding bill "is 100 percent paid for, without a single cent in additional spending.
"Sound reforms that don’t add to our deficit and debt? It doesn’t get much better than that," he said.
Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn introduced the DACA legislation. She cited the program "the root of this border crisis."
"My bill not only puts an end to this executive overreach, but it prohibits any executive action to grant deferred action or any new work authorizations to illegal aliens," Blackburn said. "My bill not only ends DACA, but also it would also prevent the administration from trying to create a new ‘Son of DACA’ amnesty program by executive order."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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