GOP prepares legislative assault to stop Obama on immigration

The House plans to vote next week on legislation that would defund President Obama's executive action on immigration.

Republicans also plan to include language rolling back a 2012 order from the Obama administration that gave legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.


The two measures would be considered as part of a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September. An earlier government-funding measure approved last month only funded that agency through February.

The legislation is meant as an opening salvo against Obama's move in November to give legal status to as many as 4.5 million illegal immigrants.

The GOP-led House Appropriations Committee unveiled the base spending bill for DHS on Friday afternoon. The bill will hit the House floor on Tuesday or Wednesday, along with three amendments.

One of those amendments, from Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), would defund Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

Mulvaney said Republicans debated in a closed-door meeting Friday morning whether to focus solely on Obama's move to shield illegal immigrants from deportation, or whether to attack the president's policies on multiple fronts.

Some more moderate, swing-district Republicans "wanted the rifle shot, ... maybe didn't want to muddy the waters," Mulvaney said. "But there were other voices in the room who said they wanted a chance to get at DACA, to get at the Morton memos" that relaxed some immigration laws in 2011.

Language nullifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), introduced by Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Colbert asks Republicans 'have you had enough?' in live show after Capitol violence MORE (R-Tenn.) last summer, will be offered as a separate amendment on the floor.

The DACA program, created by DHS in 2012, offers legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, provided they meet certain criteria.

Several other amendments will likely be considered on the floor as well. Reps. Martha RobyMartha Dubina RobyHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit The year of the Republican woman Barry Moore wins Alabama GOP runoff to replace Martha Roby MORE (R-Ala.) and Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Congress eyes 1-week stopgap, longer session to reach deal Alabama Republican becomes third House member to test positive for COVID-19 this week MORE (R-Ala.) have introduced immigration-related amendments that could be adopted and folded into the measure.

Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), House Appropriations Committee chairman, said he was “very, very thrilled” that the bill will defund “amnesty.” He said the proposal takes into account that the Citizenship and Immigration Services is not funded through congressional appropriations, but through user fees.

“It takes a change in law, which this bill would do, that allows the Congress to say that these fees cannot be used,” said Rogers, who added how important it is to keep DHS funded after the latest terrorist attack in Paris.

“We want to send a bill to the president that defunds his amnesty program, but also very importantly funds the Department of Homeland Security — the Coast Guard, TSA, the Border Patrol, the ICE teams, the Secret Service. It’s a very dangerous time. I would wonder whether or not the president would have real deep misgivings about not signing a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security.”

Rep. Matt SalmonMatthew (Matt) James SalmonCOVID-19's class divide creates new political risks Arizona voters like Kyl but few think he'll stick around Former Sen. Jon Kyl to replace McCain in Senate MORE (R-Ariz.), who led the charge to defund in the lame-duck session, said there were some Republicans, including Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who expressed concern with the plans, but most of the GOP conference was in agreement.

“I think it’ll be as close to unanimous as we can possibly get it,” he said.

There was confusion, Salmon added, among Republicans about the process for adding each amendment.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the House Rules Committee, said he expects the Mulvaney language to defund the executive orders to be considered as an amendment on the floor.

Even if the funding bill passed in the House, it’s unclear whether Senate Republicans would be able to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a likely Democratic filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Kentucky Republican committee rejects resolution urging McConnell to condemn Trump impeachment Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack MORE (R-Ky.) said earlier this week the upper chamber would consider DHS funding in February, which could cause a time-crunch if the legislation is bounced back and forth between both houses.

Cole said the House is giving the Senate adequate debate time before an eventual compromise.

"I think starting early is to try and give the Senate enough time. No. 1, see if they can get to 60. And then try to give the president enough time to see what he wants to do if we can get the bill to him," Cole said.

Leaving Friday’s conference meeting, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) scoffed at suggestions that the bill would be doomed to failure in the Senate.

"Look, [it's a] constitutional issue. We have our body, we do our work. The Senate can do their work, and we can go to conference," McCarthy said. "The Senate has a majority over there now, of Republicans. I'm sure they can take some action on this, and then we can go to conference and figure out any differences that we have.

"We're not waiting for the deadline," McCarthy added. "We're doing this early, so the Senate's got some time."

The White House has repeatedly said President Obama wouldn’t sign a spending bill for DHS that undermines his executive actions, and Democrats quickly went on the attack.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted the emerging GOP proposal.

"Rather than building upon the president's bold move to keep families together, House Republicans have decided to threaten a partial government shutdown and play politics with the security of our homeland by appeasing the anti-immigrant and extreme right-wing of their party," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.

This story was last updated at 2:54 p.m.

— Mike Lillis and Scott Wong contributed.