Gun, immigration fights flare at House spending panel

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On immigration, Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) won approval for an funding restriction aimed at localities that refuse to check the immigration status of people who come in contact with policy. He argued that localities want money to conduct such checks even as they are refusing to do the checks.

“They are trying to have their cake and eat it too,” Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said. 

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) also won approval for a funding restriction to prohibit Justice from trying to invalidate state immigration laws. The Supreme Court last month upheld an Arizona law requiring police to routinely check immigration status.

Kingston, who is running for Sen. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissGOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race Democrats go for broke in race for Tom Price's seat Spicer: Trump will 'help the team' if needed in Georgia special election MORE’s (R-Ga.) Senate seat, said states will be likely dealing with immigration for a while because comprehensive immigration reform is not likely to happen.

“If we are going to tackle immigration reform it needs to be done in a piecemeal fashion,” he said.

Much of the rest of the markup featured debates over budget sequestration and the $91 billion difference between House and Senate spending bills that all but guarantees a fiscal crisis this fall. 

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) pointed out cuts to community policy spending in the bill and tried to restore them without offering an offset. 

“Perhaps the Trayvon Martin tragedy would not have occurred with community watch people if we had more community policing,” she said. 

Her amendment failed on a 21 to 27 vote.

Rep. Jim MoranJim MoranFormer GOP House veterans panel chairman goes to K Street Former reps: Increase support to Ukraine to deter Russia GOP Rep. Comstock holds on to Virginia House seat MORE (D-Va.) offered an amendment to strike language in the bill that prevent the government from relocating Guantánamo Bay detainees to federal prisons. He said he would withdraw that amendment because Wolf had agreed to join him in an inspection of Gitmo next month.

“Imagine what we could do with the money we are spending at Guantanamo Bay ... if we weren’t wasting this money,” Moran argued, noting that Gitmo detainees cost $1.6 million each annually compared to an average $34,000 per prisoner in a super-max facility. 

During the markup, Kingston floated but ultimately withdrew an amendment that would take away the pay of federal government employees that refuse to testify before Congress or whom Congress has held in contempt. 

“Do you think any of your constituents could get away with that?” Kingston asked. 

Something similar could come up in the Financial Services bill as well.  Internal Revenue Service appointees are under fire in regard to the Tea Party harassment scandal, and the House Oversight Committee voted to hold official Lois Lerner in contempt for her refusal to answer questions.

Rogers expressed some frustration at the pace of the markup on House floor's consideration of his bills. He noted that three have passed the full House, but by the end of this week six more will be in line for action.

The committee will vote on a Financial Services funding bill later on Wednesday and consider a legislative branch bill on Thursday. A State Department measure will be sent out of subcommittee on Friday.

“The bills are stacking us,” he said. “We are hoping leadership will find a way to have a place for us on the floor.”