Louisiana lawmaker: Opposition to border bill is 'insurmountable'

Republican opposition to a border-relief package is “insurmountable,” a Tea Party conservative predicted Thursday.

House GOP leaders have delayed their August vacation in an attempt to hash out the Republican differences over an emergency response to the child migrant crisis at the southern border. 

But Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said there are no changes GOP leaders could make to their $659 million package that would win the support of 218 Republicans.

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“I think it's insurmountable. I don't care who the whips and who the leadership are,” said Fleming. 

“Number one, we are a completely wide spectrum. We've got some members of the House Republicans, and maybe even in the Senate, that agree with Democrats much more on this issue than Republicans,” Fleming explained. “But on top of that, you've got a president who does what he wants — who ignores the law, enforces only parts that he wants — and we can't trust that he'll do anything.”

Lacking Republican support, House GOP leaders on Thursday scrapped a vote on their border relief package and were poised to leave town for the long August break. But, under pressure from rank-and-file Republicans wary of returning home without addressing the crisis, the leaders quickly changed those plans, delaying the recess in hopes of winning enough GOP support to send a bill to the Senate.

The Republicans have not scheduled any new votes, but they're planning to meet as a group in the Capitol at 9 a.m. Friday to continue the discussion.

Assuming the House’s 435 members are all present, the GOP would need 218 votes to secure passage.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said the GOP opposition has been based on a combination of “misunderstandings” about what the legislation would do and “legitimate concerns” from some critics. But he predicted the party would rally to pass a bill before leaving town.

“We're just tying to work through this, and actually still think we can get there,” Cole said. “If we have to work longer or through the weekend, I think there's a genuine desire to do that.”

Some conservative opponents of the initial GOP bill said they'd be happy to support a border-relief package — if Republican leaders toughen it up. 

The conservatives have been particularly critical of President Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides two-year work visas to qualified illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. The critics contend that program, though it explicitly excludes anyone arriving to the United States after 2007, is driving the current migrant wave, and they want the border funding bill to curtail it.

“You have to have a bill to vote on that will actually stop the problem,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). “That's what the problem was: The [GOP leadership] bill didn't fully address what the American people want done.” 

Fleming disagrees. He said no border proposal is worth passing under Obama, even if Republicans support it unanimously.

“I don't get the point of passing any legislation, even if we agree on something,” Fleming said. “The president can sign it into law and completely ignore it like he does every other law.”