Border fight shifts to GOP summit

Fissures emerged Wednesday in the GOP on how to combat President Obama’s immigration orders as 26 Republicans voted against halting delayed deportations for immigrants brought to the country as children.

While the overall bill, which would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), passed 236-191, the resistance to the most controversial deportation amendment exposed a growing divide in the party over how to confront the White House.

The legislation faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Democrats are united in opposition and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) is seeking to protect the 24 GOP incumbents who are up for reelection in 2016.

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The question of what to do next will be front and center in Hershey, Pa., where Republicans from both chambers of Congress arrived Wednesday evening for a joint retreat aimed at plotting strategy and legislation for the year.

Leaders are hoping to project unity at the event, but the Feb. 27 deadline for the DHS funding looms large.

Senate Democrats wasted no time in declaring the funding bill dead on arrival.

“Republicans should stop playing games and pass a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security because the pointless, political bill passed in the House today will not pass the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) said in a statement.

The White House, buoyed by Obama’s rising approval ratings, jumped into the fray as well, and appeared to relish the chance to do battle with the GOP on immigration.

Domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz said amendments adopted by the House were “not relevant” to funding the DHS and said “nothing” that had been proposed by House Republicans “makes any sense from a policy perspective.”

“There’s no reason to tinker with the administration’s actions at all,” Muñoz said.

House Republicans begged to differ.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJohn Feehery: A political forest fire Trump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery MORE (R-Ohio), in a rare speech from the House floor, said Obama’s unilateral moves to delay deportations are trampling the rule of law.

“We are dealing with a president who has ignored the people, ignored the Constitution, and even his own past statements,” he said.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), one of the co-sponsors of an amendment defunding Obama’s most recent moves to ease deportations, said lawmakers need to stand up and avoid setting a precedent where the executive branch is allowed to flout the will of Congress.

“Law is not made because Congress fails to act. Law is made in this room when we do act,” Mulvaney said.

Still, while Republicans held together to pass the DHS funding bill, the tight, 218-209 vote over halting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which affects immigrants Democrats refer to as “Dreamers,” revealed the political pressures facing many of their members.

Among the 26 Republicans opposing the amendment were lawmakers from districts with large Hispanic populations, such as Reps. Mark AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiDACA advocates see efforts gaining steam in the House Overnight Finance: House passes .2T funding package for 2018 | FTC launches Equifax probe | Mnuchin defends honeymoon jet request | House scraps measure to boost credit union regulator oversight MORE (R-Nev.) and Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), and perennial Democratic election targets, including Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.).

Democrats, for now, are seeking to maximize their leverage in the DHS fight with a wall of opposition.

House Democrats presented a remarkably united front on Wednesday as every member of their caucus voted against the amendment to roll back DACA. Only two centrist Democrats, Reps. Brad Ashford (Neb.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.), supported the DHS spending measure on final passage.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), one of the most vocal proponents of immigration reform, said Republicans were sowing the seeds of their own destruction with the deportation votes.

“The fruits of your action today will only cause anger and outrage and the mobilization of an immigrant community throughout this nation that will be the death knell to the future of your party as an institution,” Gutiérrez said.

Conservative Republicans countered that they were simply trying to stop misguided “amnesty” policies that have encouraged immigrants to break the law and come to the United States.

“Make no mistake about it: this program has become a magnet for drawing children from Central America,” Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) said.

 

GOP DEFECTIONS

Twenty-six House Republicans on Wednesday broke with their party to vote against an amendment that would freeze the deferred deportation program for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. 

The defectors were:

Mark Amodei (Nev.) 

Mike Coffman (Colo.)

Ryan Costello (Pa.)

Carlos Curbelo (Fla.)

Jeff Denham (Calif.)

Charlie Dent (Pa.)

Mario Díaz-Balart (Fla.)

Robert Dold (Ill.)

Renee Ellmers (N.C.)

Chris Gibson (N.Y.)

Richard Hanna (N.Y.)

Cresent Hardy (Nev.)

Joe Heck (Nev.)

John Katko (N.Y.)

Pete King (N.Y.)

Adam Kinzinger (Ill.)

Frank LoBiondo (N.J.)

Tom MacArthur (N.J.)

Martha McSally (Ariz.)

Pat Meehan (Pa.)

Devin Nunes (Calif.)

Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertMcCarthy: Virginia election ‘makes me nervous’ 12 House Republicans object to Alaska refuge oil drilling proposal Ads target House Republicans over tax reform MORE (Wash.)

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.)

Chris Smith (N.J.)

Fred Upton (Mich.)

David Valadao (Calif.)

 

Rebecca Shabad contributed.