Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sponsored the amendment to the 2014 Department of Homeland Security spending bill, and called for its passage in late Wednesday debate by saying Obama's orders — also known as the Morton memos — violate the Constitution.
King added that while the government has prosecutorial discretion, Obama does not have the authority to create classes of people who are exempt from the law through an executive order.
Democrats said King's language is a "poison pill" that would not survive final passage, and that the Supreme Court has ruled that the executive branch has the right to prioritize cases through an order.
"So for the gentleman to argue that there is some constitutional infirmity with deferred action is wrong," Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said in response to King's arguments. "He's wrong on the law. He's wrong on his constitutional argument."
The House agreed with King and voted in favor of his amendment in a mostly partisan 224-201 vote. That's a smaller margin than the 238-175 vote in favor of the same language in 2012, when Republicans had a wider majority.
King's amendment was among the last to be considered to the DHS spending bill. Members also considered amendments from:
— Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), reallocating $10 million in funds to boost wildfire suppression efforts. Passed 287-136.
— Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), preventing the Transportation Security Administration from operating outside airports. Failed 196-225. The House rejected a similar amendment from Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) on Wednesday.