GOP to rebuke Obama on immigration

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 YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Secrecy behind Saudi nuclear talks infuriates Congress Congress can finally ensure horses are not tortured for ribbons and prizes 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 Andrew BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa 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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage 2020 Democrat Bennet releases comprehensive government reform plan GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers 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 SalmonMatthew (Matt) James SalmonArizona voters like Kyl but few think he'll stick around Former Sen. Jon Kyl to replace McCain in Senate Arizona governor faces pressure over McCain replacement MORE (R-Ariz.). “I don't think it accomplishes anything, but I'm going to support it.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenators briefed on US Navy's encounters with UFOs: report Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Trump weighs in on UFOs in Stephanopoulos interview 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.