Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Friday that Congress should pass legislation that would block President Barack Obama's amnesty orders and that he overstepped his authority when he moved to grant deportation relief and work permits to as many as 5 million illegals.
"The Congress ought to pass a bill that doesn't allow him to use that authority," Bush said in response to a question from Fox News host Sean Hannity at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington. He was among many 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls to speak at the three-day session, which ends Saturday.
"Look, I'm not an expert on the ways of Washington," Bush added. "It makes no sense to me that we're not funding control of our border, which is the whole argument. I'm missing something.
"The simple fact is that the president has gone way beyond his constitutional powers to do this — and the Congress has every right to reinstate their responsibility for what law is about," he said.
Bush's comments came as Congress wrangled over financing the Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year. Republicans oppose granting the department $39.7 billion without stripping out Obama's immigration orders.
Despite the opposition, the Senate voted to fully fund the agency — but a separate bill blocking the amnesty orders failed, and legislation to finance Homeland Security for three weeks failed in the House.
Without the funding extension, DHS would begin a partial shutdown at midnight.
Amid cheers, occasional jeers, protests — even a walkout by several dozen people after beginning his speech, Bush sought to win over a CPAC audience that remained uneasy about his record on immigration and education.
"No more Bushes! No more Clinton!" chanted William Temple, a Georgia tea party activist, who led several dozen people in a walkout after the former governor began taking Hannity's questions. "What's he doing here? He's an establishment candidate, not a conservative candidate."
"I know there is disagreement here," Bush, 62, said in response to the protesters. "If I run for president, I have to show what's in my heart. I have to show that I care about people and their future.
"It can't be about the past. It can't be about my mom and dad, or my brother," he said, referring to former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Bush, who governed Florida from 1999 to 2007, said he backed defunding Obama's unilateral actions. He said he objected to denying Homeland Security its budget because that would weaken the borders the agency is tasked with patrolling.
"The president did use authority that he didn't have," Bush told Hannity. "The courts are going to overrule that. I have been consistent about that.
"Let's secure the border. There's nothing wrong with that. That's what a great nation has to do. There's nothing that holds back the Republicans to put a comprehensive plan in place to do that."
He also said he supported a pathway to legal status for immigrants and for those living and working in the shadows. "Where they work, they don't receive government benefits and they make a contribution to our society."
Bush slammed Obama's foreign policy, saying he supported creating a safe zone for the rebel Free Syrian Army in its battle against pro-government fighters and the Islamic State, "something we should have done three years ago.
"I like the idea of not putting conditions on boots on the ground, so that we can have the intelligence capabilities and the special forces capabilities to make a difference."
He said the nuclear talks with Iran made addressing issues in the region "more complicated."
"The idea that we're going to be tripping over, finding a deal, negotiating downward, creating an unsafe world and legitimizing the Ayatollah and his nuclear capability is very troubling," Bush said, referring to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The former governor said he believes Congress should approve any deal struck with Tehran and he pledged undying support for Israel.
"We need to be clear that there should be no light between us and Israel," Bush said. "Simply focusing on whether Iran has a weapon, and then now negotiating down on how we're going to regulate it, is just bad policy."
In outlining his agenda for the first 100 days if he were elected to the White House, Bush said he would reverse Obama's amnesty orders, put forth plans for regulatory and tax reform — and "then send the signal to the rest of the world that we're going to be their partner for peace and security."
Newsmax wires contributed to this report.
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