WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. House Republicans, arguing the president overstepped his powers in creating deportation relief programs for millions of immigrants here illegally, voted to formally oppose his action in a case to be heard next month by the Supreme Court.
In a rare move, the House voted 234-186 to allow House Speaker Paul Ryan to file an amicus brief in the case. The brief, essentially is the written reasoning of opponents, filed as the view of the U.S. House.
The vote drew opposition from immigration groups. The resolution got no support from Democratic House members. Five Republicans - Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida; Rep. Bob Dold of Illinois and Rep. Richard Hanna of New York - also voted against it.
The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for April 18 to consider the government's appeal of a lower court decision blocking the president's immigration executive action. His action authorized the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA and creating of a similar program for immigrant parents here illegally and who have U.S. citizen or legal resident children here. Both programs would shield millions of immigrants from deportation and permit them to work.
The decision the government is appealing stems from a lawsuit filed by Texas and of 25 other states, most of which are Republican led.
Ryan acknowledged in comments from the House floor that the vote is an "extraordinary step" and said "this is not a question of whether we are for or against a certain policy."
"It is about the integrity of our Constitution," Ryan said. Ryan echoed the complaints other Republicans have previously made saying that Obama overstepped his constitutional authority.
"The legislative branch needs to be writing the laws, not the executive branch, and certainly not a branch of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats," Ryan said.
"So I am prepared to make our case," he said.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra blasted the GOP's decision to vote to file the brief. Democrats filed one as well last week, that was signed by 186 House members and 39 senators, individually, "separate from official duty," Becerra said. He accused Republicans of using and wasting taxpayer time and money with the vote.
"They are looking to use taxpayer money to push forward their partisan agenda and their position in this case of U.S. vs. Texas. They are injecting every American who pays taxes into this fight even though most Americans support a comprehensive fix to our immigration laws," he said before the vote.
Further, Becerra said, the Congress doesn't need to lobby the Supreme Court to change laws.
"It seems, these days, that Republicans in Congress spend more time and taxpayer money filing partisan lawsuits and legal briefs than trying to pass the country's must-do legislation, like the budget or a jobs bill or even commonsense immigration reform," Becerra said.