House Republicans on Tuesday spent the day beating back questions about the implementation of a contentious immigration order signed by President Donald Trump while Democrats forcefully bashed the administration as “dangerous.”
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, while defending its proposed intent, even admitted the roll out of the executive order, which at first banned travel for those with valid green cards coming from Muslim-majority countries, could have been better handled.
“I think it’s regrettable that there was some confusion on the roll-out of this,” Ryan said. “No one wanted to see people with green cards or special immigrant visas like translators get caught up in all of this.”
Still, Ryan defended the plan while careful to note that he supports refugee resettlement programs.
On whether Congress has any role to address concerns with the Trump administration’s immigration executive order, Ryan said yes — but offered no details on how.
“There’s always a role for Congress. Congress oversees these things all of the time,” Ryan said. “But this is clearly in keeping with the president’s authorities.”
Meanwhile, the typically mild-tempered House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer unleashed on the Trump administration, calling it “irresponsible and dangerous” and that Trump was testing the presidency from an “authoritarian standpoint.”
Reports surfaced Monday night that congressional staff on the House Judiciary Committee had helped craft the order, but did so in secret without letting their bosses or House leadership know.
“Unacceptable. Unacceptable,” Hoyer said. “We’re not an arm of the administration.”
For his part, Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte released a statement praises his staff’s work, which he said he allowed them to do.
“While they gave advice to the new administration, they did not have decision making authority on the policy,” the statement read. “My staff had no control of the language contained in the president’s executive order, the timing of the announcement, the rollout and subsequent implementation and the coordination with Congress.”
Other Republicans were energized Tuesday by the prospects of rolling back some Obama administration regulations this week using an infrequently used mechanism available to the legislative branch: the Congressional Review Act.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, flanked by several colleagues, said the House would vote Wednesday to overturn a rule related to water polluting from coal mining, known as the Stream Protection Rule.
The CRA allows lawmakers to use a simple majority vote to rescind a regulation within 60 legislative days of publication. The law has only been successfully used once in its 20-year history.