House delays border security bill vote

The House won’t vote this week on a controversial GOP border security plan that some conservatives complained would do little to stop President Obama’s order to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

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Aides to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who controls the floor schedule, said the blizzard pummeling the Northeast forced the cancellation of votes Monday night. And due to the shortened schedule this week, the vote on the border bill — originally slated for Wednesday — has been postponed until a later date.

But conservative opponents of the border legislation, authored by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas), say the snowstorm gave GOP leaders a convenient excuse to pull the bill as they struggled to shore up support.

Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump and Russia: A timeline on communications Hispanic Dems demand meeting with Sessions Justice Department to seek Supreme Court review in Trump travel ban case MORE (R-Ala.) and a handful of conservative House allies have been warning fellow Republicans about the McCaul bill. They say Senate leaders might try to take up the border bill to fight Obama’s immigration actions while abandoning a tougher, House-passed bill that would block funding for the president’s unilateral efforts.

“Voting for a feeble border bill would just help the Senate leadership strip out the House defund measure,” said one GOP aide. “GOP leaders are therefore having trouble whipping the votes. House members don’t want to help leaders across the chamber detract from their defund measure.”

The McCaul legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent all illegal crossings into the U.S. within five years, giving the agency billions of dollars for drones, fencing and other technology and equipment.

No decision has been made about if or when the McCaul bill will be brought back to the floor. House leadership had hoped to discuss the bill with members during votes Monday night and the weekly GOP caucus meeting Tuesday morning, aides said.

Funding for the DHS is expected to run out at the end of February. The Republicans’ “defund” measure would tie the agency's funding to their efforts to fight Obama’s immigration actions. But the bill appears to lack the 60 votes needed to move through the Senate, as some Republicans argue that the party should not risk a DHS shutdown at a time of increased terror threats.

Cristina Marcos contributed.