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on August 01, 2014 at 10:26 PM, updated August 01, 2014 at 11:28 PM
But the bill is destined to go nowhere, with the Democratic-led Senate unlikely to even consider it, and President Barack Obama vowing a veto if it somehow made it to his desk. He called the bills “extreme” and “unworkable.”
“As the great-grandson of an Italian immigrant, I’m proud that America is a nation of immigrants, however, we are also a nation of laws,” said new House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson. “The House is the only body that has done its job and shown real leadership in solving this crisis by securing the border and enforcing the rule of law.”
It follows an embarrassing day Thursday when the first GOP immigration bill had to be pulled, just before the scheduled vote. It prompted The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza to write Friday that Scalise had the “Worst Week in Washington” — for having the first major bill he was in charge of as the newly elected majority whip fail. The majority whip is in charge of helping secure GOP votes, and compiling the likely tally. He would have been the GOP leader who warned leadership to pull the bill.
Scalise spent late Thursday and Friday in meetings with House Republicans, and eventually the two-bill strategy that took a tough stand against illegal immigration won over the Tea Party members who deserted the party’s leadership the day before.
The first bill the House adopted, with only one Democratic vote, would allocate $694 million, far less than the president proposed, while modifying a 2008 anti-human trafficking law to make it easier to deport unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the United States border in recent months. It includes $35 million to reimburse governors for deploying the National Guard at border areas. A separate bill would block the Obama administration from continuing to implement a 2012 executive action, known as the Deferred Acton for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which puts off most deportations for children who arrived in the United States before 2007.
It prevents the Obama administration from expending any funds for DACA, to authorize work permits for illegal immigrants or offer up any new deferred deportation programs.
Republicans say the president didn’t have the authority to enact the program.
But the bill is a non-starter in the Democratic controlled Senate, and Democrats called it cruel, suggesting the GOP would pay a price with the growing rolls of Hispanic voters.
“Instead of working together, instead of focusing on the 80 percent where there is agreement between the Democrats and Republicans, between the administration and Congress, House Republicans, as we speak, are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere, that can’t pass the Senate, and that if it were to pass the Senate, I would veto,” Obama said at a news conference Friday.
“They know it. They’re not even trying to actually solve the problem. This is a message bill that they couldn’t quite pull off yesterday, so they made it a little more extreme so maybe they can pass it today, just so they can check a box before they’re leaving town for a month.”
The president said he would have to work out a solution to the border crisis on his own — moving federal funds around.
Republicans said their emphasis on border security is required.
“More than 90,000 illegal aliens have flooded the U.S.-Mexican border,” said Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who is running for the Senate. “President Obama is granting executive amnesty. The Senate left town doing nothing. Tonight, the House of Representatives voted to secure the border with National Guard and border patrol police, end President Obama’s executive amnesty and close loopholes that allow the President to ignore the intent of the law.”
He and Scalise called on the Senate to return from its summer recess, which began Thursday night, and act on the immigration crisis.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, said the GOP approach to move quickly to deport young children, many of whom crossed the border unaccompanied, isn’t consistent with the Christian values many Republicans say are their guiding principles.
“We in this country don’t let a 10-year-old go on a field trip to the zoo without a parental permission slip and we don’t let them go to a PG-13 movie without an adult,” Richmond said. “But we’re going to allow kids as young as five-years-old to self deport without any counsel or family consent.”
“We’re heading into moral bankruptcy,” he said.
Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, said that the House is acting appropriately to secure the border.
“This bill directs the majority of its funding to security and enforcement while ensuring those who have broken the law are detained, tried, and deported in an expedited manner,” Boustany said. “If the President refuses to enforce the law, inviting this crisis at our doorstep, the House will use the power of the purse to compel him to act.”
The $694 million spending bill passed 223-189, with only four Republicans voting no and one Democrat yes. All five Louisiana Republicans — Scalise, Boustany, Cassidy, John Fleming of Minden and Vance McAllister of Swartz voted for the bill, with Richmond casting a no vote.
The bill ending the president’s deportation relief for children in the United States since 2007 passed 216-192, with 11 Republican voting against the legislation, and four Democrats voting yes. The breakdown for the Louisiana delegation was the same as for the first bill – all the Republicans voting yes and Richmond voting no.
Bruce Alpert is the Washington-based reporter for NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org