26 House Republicans Stand Up to Anti-DACA Contingent (Video) (Updated)
Updated 2:24 p.m. | When House Republicans went to vote on their Department of Homeland Security funding bill Wednesday, they encountered an unusual dynamic.
Instead of the most conservative faction threatening to derail an amendment for not meeting certain ideological purity standards, it was the more moderate contingent rising up against a provision it argued went too far. Twenty-six Republicans rebelled against an amendment to the spending bill that would end President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA — an initiative that has granted stays of deportation to thousands of young undocumented immigrants, many of whom were brought into the country illegally by their parents.
Though they are all staunch critics of Obama and oppose his unilateral changes to immigration policy, they cannot reconcile that opposition with their overall support for the policies he has put into place.
Some of the Republicans who voted against the provision are those who typically oppose legislative language to roll back DACA or other similar programs offering deportation relief within certain immigrant communities, and strongly support passing comprehensive immigration overhaul legislation: Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida; Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California; and Mike Coffman of Colorado, among others.
There were also the GOP lawmakers considered more centrist relative to the overall conference: New York Reps. Peter T. King and Richard Hanna, for instance, along with Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.
And a handful of freshmen took a stand on the issue, too: Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Robert Dold of Illinois, Cresent Hardy of Nevada, John Katko of New York, Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania and Martha E. McSally of Arizona.
The other “no” votes came from Reps. Mark Amodei and Joe Heck of Nevada; Frank A. LoBiondo and Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey; Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Renee Ellmers of North Carolina; Dave Reichert of Washington; Devin Nunes of California; and Chris Gibson of New York.
Also voting “no” was Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan.
The amendment’s defeat would have threatened passage of the underlying bill, as a key number of Republicans have said they are only willing to fund the Homeland Security Department when paired with language to roll back Obama’s executive immigration orders.
Of course, that could change in the coming weeks: The DHS spending bill, which passed 236-191, now heads to the Senate, where it’s unclear whether it will have the votes to pass. The White House has already issued a veto threat.
On Feb. 28, the department will run out of money, and before that the House Republican hard-liners could have to decide if they want to risk a shut down of the crucial agency over the issue of immigration.
“When all is said and done, if this becomes law — this exact thing, and I don’t think it will — or if something else becomes law, we’re still going to wake up tomorrow, next week, next month, in the same reality, which is, we have a broken immigration system,” Diaz-Balart told reporters following the vote.
He added that members of his conference needed to prepare themselves for the reality of a rider-free DHS bill: “A lot of times, we are guilty of raising expectations to a number of different folks, when it’s pretty evident that, mathematically, that’s not gonna happen.”
Before voting began on the bill and amendments, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, made a rare floor appearance to read off the 22 times Obama suggested he didn’t have unilateral authority to change immigration laws.
“To think that the president studied constitutional law. He taught constitutional law,” Boehner said. “But now his actions suggest he’s forgotten what these words even mean. Well, enough is enough. When we said this would not stand, we meant it.”
Just before final passage, House Democrats used a standard parliamentary procedure to force a vote on the floor to strip the spending bill of the controversial policy riders. As expected, it went down along party lines, 184-244, though even the Republicans who have said they are prepared to eventually vote for a “clean” DHS bill opted not to give the Democrats ammunition on Wednesday.
On final passage, 10 Republicans voted “no,” though two of them were from conservatives: Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.
Correction 7:45 p.m. An earlier version of this post misspelled Cresent Hardy’s name.
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