House Speaker John Boehner presented a two-step plan to Republican lawmakers to try to curb President Barack Obama’s immigration orders while avoiding a government shutdown this month.
The House plans to vote this week on a version of a largely symbolic bill, H.R. 5759, that would deny the president authority to protect undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from deportation, said Representative John Mica, a Florida Republican.
The proposal is designed to let House Republicans show they disapprove of Obama’s executive action on immigration and then vote for a spending bill that would fund most of the government through September 2015. The Department of Homeland Security, which has primary responsibility for immigration policy, would be funded only into March 2015, said Representative Tom Reed, a New York Republican.
“You’re going to find enough people that will go along with this,” said Florida Republican Dennis Ross. A government shutdown wasn’t discussed during Republicans’ private meeting today, he said.
“We’re not going to take that bait,” Ross said.
Congressional Republicans’ public opinion numbers dropped after the 16-day partial shutdown in October 2013, caused by party members’ insistence on de-funding Obamacare.
Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican, said he is urging colleagues to include language in the funding bill that would block Obama’s order on immigration.
“I will not vote to fund the president’s lawless unconstitutional act and they should not be asking members to do so,” he said today.
Representative Ted Yoho, a Florida Republican, noted that his bill to halt Obama’s deportation actions can be blocked in the Senate by Nevada Democrat Harry Reid in his last month as majority leader.
“It will be symbolic if Reid does,” Yoho said.
After Republicans take control of the Senate in January, Congress could fight the immigration order using a DHS funding bill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has threatened to withhold Democratic votes for a partial spending measure. If the threat holds, Boehner will have to get most of his members on board to pass it.
Republicans have been discussing whether to hold up immigration-related sections of the funding measure in an attempt to scale back Obama’s initiative. Congress must pass funding legislation by Dec. 11 or risk a partial government shutdown.
The current fiscal year began Oct. 1, and the government has been operating on short-term funding scheduled to run out Dec. 11. House Speaker John Boehner and other leaders have said Republicans won’t create a repeat of last year’s shutdown.
The president announced Nov. 20 that he would temporarily halt deportations for about 5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. His directive will defer for three years the deportation of people who came to the U.S. as children and for parents of children who are citizens or legal permanent residents.
The Department of Homeland Security will also streamline the visa process for foreign workers and their employers and give high-skilled workers more flexible work authorization.
Obama has said he would veto any legislation that would block his immigration orders.
While Obama’s actions amount to the most sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration system in a generation, they don’t go as far as the legislation that passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote in June 2013 and stalled in the House.
The Senate bill would create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants now in the U.S. Second- ranking House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland and other members of his party have said they hope Obama’s move will force Congress into acting on legislation.
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