Republicans Try to Stop Immigration Order While Avoiding ShutdownHeidi Przybyla
House Republican leaders are trying to persuade members not to risk a U.S. government shutdown in responding to President Barack Obama’s plan to ease deportation of undocumented immigrants.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers has offered a plan that would keep the government operating after current funding expires Dec. 11. Rogers of Kentucky said he wants to finance the government for a full year, and retroactively cancel money in 2015 for any immigration action ordered by the president.
That would avoid a repeat of the 16-day partial government shutdown in October 2013 caused by a standoff over Republican insistence on using a government spending bill to defund Obama’s health-care law. Republicans’ public approval plunged.
House Speaker John Boehner said at a news conference today that canceling appropriated funds is one possibility. “There are a lot of options we’re considering,” he said. “There are a lot of good ideas out there.”
A Boehner ally, Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said many members “understand what was done in October of last year is not the appropriate way going forward.” Court challenges also are a possibility, he said.
“The conference is trying to be a lot more thoughtful,” Cole said. “Our aim is to shut down what the president is doing, not to shut down the government.”
Obama has said he will use executive action to revise immigration policy by the end of the year unless Congress advances legislation. That could include halting deportation of the parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally. The action could be broader, covering many of the 11 million people included in a bill passed by the Democratic-led Senate last year.
Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, declined to say when Obama will take action. Asked about potentially shutting down the government, Earnest said “it’s certainly not unprecedented rhetoric from Republicans, unfortunately.”
A number of House and Senate Republicans say they want to deny the federal funds needed to issue work permits and residency cards to undocumented immigrants. Congress must pass new funding legislation next month or risk a shutdown.
House Republicans’ chief vote-counter, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, has been meeting with conservatives to identify alternatives, said an aide who sought anonymity to describe the private talks.
As former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Scalise can serve as a bridge between leadership and Tea Party-backed members looking for a way to block the president.
“There are a variety of different tools,” said Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, an RSC member.
Another option is writing a full-year appropriations bill for most of the government and a temporary spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies that handle immigration tasks.
Next year Congress could add defunding language to those agencies’ spending bills, recognizing that a presidential veto would affect only them.
Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, also an RSC member, said he is open to alternatives, as did Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Republican who has frequently split with her party’s leaders. She is retiring after this session.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Obama shouldn’t delay action on immigration any longer.
“I’m tired of hearing the House of Representatives” say “give us more time, give us more time,” Reid said in an interview with Univision. “I think it should be done now.”