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GOP to rebuke Obama on immigration

Greg Nash

House Republicans are poised Thursday to rebuke President Obama for acting alone to change the immigration system despite concerns from conservatives that their vote will be largely symbolic.

Rep. Ted YohoTed YohoClash in GOP over Zika funding Standoff in GOP over Zika funding A 'zero-for-zero' approach on sugar will lead to a freer market MORE's (R-Fla.) bill would prevent the executive branch from deferring deportations for undocumented immigrants and effectively nullify President Obama's executive action.

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Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return MORE (R-Ohio) scheduled the vote as a nod to conservatives — Yoho voted against him for Speaker two years ago — and it is expected to gain near universal support from Republicans.

Yet many conservatives say it is not enough.

At a rally outside the Capitol on Wednesday, Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzMcConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Cruz holds back support for Trump with eye on abortion Trump takes victory lap over rivals' remarks MORE (R-Texas) urged Republicans to do more than a “meaningless show vote,” and called for them to block funding for the executive actions on immigration.

“Doing what you promise doesn't mean, as it so often does in Washington, sending a really stern letter and having a meaningless show vote. Why do you think people are so frustrated with Washington? Because they recognize there are a whole lot of politicians who say one thing at home and do something different here,” Cruz said.

Many conservatives acknowledge the vote on Yoho’s bill won’t lead to anything.

“I think that a Hallmark card would be cheaper. Send the president a Hallmark card saying we don't like your immigration ideas,” said Rep. Matt SalmonMatt SalmonLGBT fight dooms spending bill on House floor A hearing brought to tears over Right to Try legislation Time for national Right to Try legislation MORE (R-Ariz.). “I don't think it accomplishes anything, but I'm going to support it.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidNearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate McCain files B amendment to boost defense spending MORE (D-Nev.) has said he won't bring the bill up for a vote. President Obama would also veto it.

The vote on the Yoho bill is intended to build support for a spending package expected to come to the floor next week. That package would fund the government through next September, except for the Department of Homeland Security.

In another effort to win over conservatives, the bill would only fund that agency for a few months so that Republicans might have leverage in the next Congress to go after Obama’s actions.

GOP leaders in both chambers want to move the bill to prevent any possibility of a government shutdown, but several conservative lawmakers on Wednesday said they feel pressure to do more.

“It's hard for me with every major figure in our party starting with Reince Priebus down to the lowliest of members like myself having said, 'We're going to do everything we can to stop this.' And then to do nothing to stop it, really hurts,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).

Mulvaney plans to vote for Yoho’s bill, however.

“What am I going to do, vote against it?” Mulvaney said. “It's a good bill. I think it has nothing to do with the larger discussion.” 

It’s unclear how many votes the GOP could lose in next week’s battle over the funding measure, though conservatives have suggested they could have dozens of votes against the plan.

Salmon estimated “more than 50” House Republicans would vote against a spending bill that doesn't include limitations on the executive action. 

“I think the only thing that really has any substance is the funding. It's the only leverage that we have,” Salmon said.

Thursday's vote will give House Republicans a way to vent their frustrations with President Obama's unilateral move, and GOP leaders hope the venting will help their cause next week.

“I think it's better than nothing,” Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said of the vote on Thursday. 

—Rebecca Shabad contributed.