Republicans to deny funding for Obama immigration agenda

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2015 2:44 PM

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the House of Representatives will try to block President Barack Obama's immigration initiatives next week by denying funding for them in a security budget bill, lawmakers said on Friday.

The decision by House Speaker John Boehner to initiate an immigration showdown with the White House appeared to placate some conservatives just three days after they tried to oust Boehner in the most contentious leadership election in decades.

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which spearheads domestic counter terrorism efforts, secures U.S. borders, airports and coastal waters and protects the president, was left out of a $1.1 billion government spending bill passed in December.

Boehner had told his party he would use the DHS budget as leverage to try to stop an executive order in November by the Democratic president lifting the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.

"This is the fulfillment of a promise by Speaker Boehner," Representative Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said of the Republican plans after a closed-door strategy session.

Representative Tim Huelskamp, one of 25 Republicans to withhold support from Boehner on Tuesday, said he believed the party was unified behind Boehner's strategy.

"Folks appreciate this," Huelskamp said. "The question we don’t know is what happens in the Senate" on the provisions to block the immigration order.

The strategy, however, risks a cut-off in funding for DHS at a time when domestic terrorism concerns have been heightened by deadly attacks by Islamist gunmen this week in France.

“It's a very dangerous time and I would wonder whether the president would have real deep misgivings about not signing a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky told reporters.

The spending bill, to be introduced later on Friday, will fully fund the department through the Sept. 30 fiscal year-end, Republicans said, but will contain language prohibiting any spending on activities deemed unconstitutional or illegal. Republicans claim Obama has acted illegally by unilaterally ordering the change in deportation policy.

The White House insists it acted within its constitutional powers.

But the strongest, most specific language targeting immigration will be in amendments to the core bill. Besides banning spending for Obama's November order, the amendments would seek to block Obama's 2012 initiative deferring action against immigrants who were brought into the United States illegally as children.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by John Whitesides and Grant McCool)