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House Leaders Spar Over Deportations, Homeland Security Funding

  • Cindy Saine

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 8, 2015.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 8, 2015.

The new 114th Congress is barely under way, but already Democratic and Republican leaders in the House of Representatives appear to be bracing for a new confrontation over the issue of immigration reform and deportations. The deportation debate is linked to funding for the Department of Homeland Security, at a time when the world is on edge due to Wednesday's terrorist attack in Paris, France.

Only two days after re-elected Republican House Speaker John Boehner gave a big kiss on the cheek to Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as she symbolically handed him the speaker's gavel, the two leaders were issuing terse warnings to each other at their Thursday news conferences.

Before departing for the winter break in December, the 113th Congress passed a bill funding most of the federal government through September.

House Republicans, however, wanted to show their anger at President Barack Obama for issuing an executive order that would shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The House passed a bill that funded the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration enforcement, only until February 27, setting up a showdown.

Democratic Leader Pelosi said next month's deadline would be a first test of the new Congress’ ability to govern.

“How do we honor our oath to protect and defend, passing a Homeland Security bill, without getting involved in the issue of the president’s authority,” she said.

For his part, Speaker Boehner said he did not thinking funding for Homeland Security was in jeopardy, but, he again vowed that the Republican majority would block the president’s executive order.

“The House will soon take action aimed at stopping the president’s unilateral action when it comes to immigration. Republicans are in agreement that this is a gravely serious matter. The president’s unilateral actions were an affront to the rule of law and our system of government,” he said.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have condemned Wednesday's deadly shooting attack at a satirical weekly in Paris and said the United States will stand by its oldest ally, France.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Michael McCaul, said he also wanted to stop the executive action on deportations. McCaul, however, said responsible people had no desire to shut down the Homeland Security department because it was too important to national security.

Other Republican lawmakers have voiced similar concerns, so it remains to be seen how Speaker Boehner and other party leaders will approach the funding bill next month.

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