After an embarrassing retreat for Republican leaders, a divided U.S. House is postponing its summer recess to attempt another vote on a bill to address the border crisis.
House leaders abruptly called off a scheduled vote on the legislation Thursday after a Tea Party revolt that siphoned off GOP support needed to pass it. Conservative Republicans – cheered by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama -- threatened to break with their own party to vote against the GOP-authored measure, arguing that the legislation doesn’t do enough to stem the flow of new migrants into the United States.
John Moore / Getty Images
FALFURRIAS, TX - JULY 22: Undocumented immigrants wait as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter transports fellow detained immigrants to a processing center on July 22, 2014 near Falfurrias, Texas. Thousands of immigrants, many of them minors, have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
But others in the party fumed, saying that leaving Washington without doing anything to address what both sides have called a humanitarian crisis would earn the ire of their constituents just months before the November midterms.
Emerging from an emergency meeting called after leaders nixed the vote, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, told reporters that "we'll stay until we vote" on a border bill. House leaders have scheduled another meeting Friday morning to discuss their next steps.
But even if the House does pass the $659 million funding bill, it’s still sure to languish. The White House has already said it would veto the bill, calling it “patchwork legislation that will only put more arbitrary and unrealistic demands on an already broken system.” And the Senate is considering a version of the legislation that’s vastly different from the House’s modest proposal, with no plans to blend the two proposals into one that could make it to the president’s desk.
In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner and other leaders called upon President Barack Obama to take steps to address the crisis "without the need for congressional action."
"This situation shows the intense concern within our conference - and among the American people - about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president's refusal to faithfully execute our laws," House leaders wrote in a statement. "We will continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing our country."
That explanation prompted Democrats to cry foul, noting that Republicans voted just the previous day to sue the president over what the GOP calls an abuse of executive power related to the new health care law.
Tweeted White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer:
Conservative House members want to attach a measure to the bill that would prevent the Obama administration from issuing further executive orders that could grant young illegal immigrants legal status. Seeking to mollify his conference’s right wing, Boehner offered a separate vote on that proposal Thursday, but it proved insufficient as conservatives peeled off as the scheduled vote neared.
"We'll stay until we vote"
Another major sticking point has been a 2008 anti-trafficking law that ensures additional legal protections for children coming illegally to the United States from Central America. The Senate bill would leave the law in place, but the House version rolls it back, reflecting mostly Republican arguments that the protections slow the processing and deportation of illegal immigrants.
When the border crisis first started making headlines, the White House indicated that it would support a rollback of the law, but has been quiet on the issue in recent days amid strong opposition from many Democrats and immigration advocates.
First published July 31 2014, 10:58 AM