CAPITOL HILL —
One week after the terrorist attacks in France, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted 236 to 191 extend funding for domestic security operations, while also blocking President Barack Obama’s executive order shielding millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The bill has little chance of becoming law.
The Republican-led House voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year, something lawmakers of both parties support. But the bill came with amendments designed to prevent the agency from complying with the president’s unilateral actions on immigration, as explained by Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte.
“The amendment will completely defund President Obama’s unconstitutional power grab, granting work authorization to over four million unlawful aliens," said Goodlatte.
Senate passage of the bill is viewed as questionable, and Republicans do not have the votes that would be required to override a presidential veto.
Given this reality, Democrats like Representative Mark Takano are accusing Republicans of playing partisan politics with domestic security.
“We just saw what happened to our friends in France. And now they [Republicans] are going to play games with our national security and threaten its funding," said Takano.
Not so, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who says it is Democrats who imperil the nation by favoring executive action over the legislative process.
“This is about resisting the assault on democratic government and protecting the constitutional separation of powers. There is only one question to ask: do we weaken our constitution by allowing the executive to legislate? Or do we defend the most fundamental laws of our democracy? There is no middle ground," said McCarthy.
In the last Congress, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that was never voted on in the House. In issuing the executive order two months ago, President Obama said he had no choice but to act because Congress failed to do so.
Republican Party leaders acknowledge the need to fix America’s immigration system for the good of the nation and their party, which has seen a weakening of support from Hispanics during the past decade. Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez says Wednesday’s House vote will further damage the Republican brand among immigrants.
“Your action today will cause only outrage and the mobilization of an immigrant community throughout this nation that will be the death nail [knell] to the future of your [Republican] party as a national institution. That is what you will reap today," said Gutierrez.
The Department of Homeland Security is funded into next month, while the rest of the federal government has been funded through September.