The House on Thursday voted to bar the executive branch from deferring the deportation of undocumented workers, taking its first direct action against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
The 219-197 vote, with three lawmakers voting present, was largely symbolic as the measure is headed for certain death in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he won't take up the legislation. The White House has also threatened to veto the measure.
Republicans are up in arms over Obama’s actions on immigration, which could provide legal status and work permits to up to 5 million people.
Conservative groups have pressed the GOP to defund agencies implementing Obama’s order in response to the president’s actions.
But Boehner and his leadership team have settled on a strategy that would fund most of the government through September 2015, while only funding the Department of Homeland Security for a few months. Appropriators are expected to release the legislation on Monday.
Dozens of Republicans are expected to vote against the funding measure next week, which will force Boehner to win Democratic votes for the measure. Only 7 Republicans voted against Yoho’s bill, while three others voted present. Only three Democrats supported it.
Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler said the influential conservative group didn't issue a key vote for the Yoho bill because “it is purely symbolic.” The group is urging Republicans to oppose the House GOP leadership’s funding plan.
Yoho said the measure reaffirmed the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.
“To vote no against the bill is to vote no against the Constitution,” Yoho said.
But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the measure was “cold-hearted.”
“Millions of hardworking, law-abiding families will be able to celebrate the holidays with a renewed hope in the future,” Pelosi said. “With this bill, Republicans would tear apart millions of families and throw thousands upon thousands of American children into foster care.”
Before the vote, the White House also criticized the House GOP's measure.
"It's a little nonsensical for them to pursue this course of action but not inconsistent with their strategy," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
"The United States House of Representatives is voting to break up families," a senior administration official said.
Though the Democratic Senate is not expected to take up the bill, the official stressed that the vote “has consequences,” especially for Republicans.
"They would rather go back to a system that has no differentiation between Dream Act students who are trying to get right by the law versus people who aren't."
Boehner, for his part, dismissed criticism from conservatives in his party who say the leadership's response to Obama wasn't aggressive enough. He said his team's approach— the disapproval measure, plus keeping DHS on a short funding leash — was the best option until Republicans take control of both chambers of Congress next month.
“We think this is the most practical way to fight the president’s action,” Boehner said. “And frankly we listened to our members, and we listened to some members who are frankly griping the most.
“This was their idea of how to proceed,” he added.
Yoho is one of the House conservatives who has frequently butted heads with leadership. He voted against Boehner as Speaker two years ago.
Boehner said it would be an “act of monumental arrogance” if the Senate ignores the Yoho bill.
“The American people elected us to do their will and not to bow to the whims of the White House that regards the legislative process established by the Constitution as little more than a nuisance,” Boehner told reporters before the vote.
The seven Republican no votes were Reps. Mike Coffman (Colo.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Marlin Stutzman (Ind.) and David Valadao (Calif.). With the exceptions of Gohmert and Stutzman, who thought the bill did not go far enough, these Republicans are supportive of immigration reform.
Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.), John Barrow (Ga.) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.) voted in favor of the bill.
The three present votes were Republican Reps. Raul Labrador (Idaho), Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Steve King (Iowa), who have all criticized the Senate's immigration reform bill.
Scott Wong, Jesse Byrnes and Peter Sullivan contributed.
— This story was last updated at 3:39 p.m.