Dissenting Vote on Border Funds Sought in House

Conservatives want a resolution saying President Obama has all the tools he needs to respond to the flood of undocumented immigrants.

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 15: Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) listens during a news conference for the launch of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus on Capitol Hill on September 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. Franks is a co-chair of the caucus, along with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The bi-partisan caucus has attracted approximately 50 members. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Rachel Roubein and Billy House
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Rachel Roubein Billy House
July 28, 2014, 6:15 p.m.

As a pre­requis­ite to any House ac­tion on emer­gency fund­ing for the bor­der crisis, some House con­ser­vat­ives are push­ing for a vote this week on a res­ol­u­tion de­clar­ing that Pres­id­ent Obama already has “the ne­ces­sary tools at his dis­pos­al” to ad­dress the flood of un­doc­u­mented minors ar­riv­ing from Cent­ral Amer­ica.

The ef­fort rep­res­ents clear evid­ence of con­tin­ued res­ist­ance with­in the Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence to­ward ap­prov­ing any por­tion of Obama’s re­quest for $3.7 bil­lion to deal with the surge of im­mig­rants. Such a vote would en­able these law­makers to put on the re­cord their reas­ons for be­liev­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion does not need sup­ple­ment­al ap­pro­pri­ations.

Wheth­er it would also provide polit­ic­al cov­er for them if they then turned around and voted to provide even a smal­ler amount is doubt­ful. There ap­pears to be no guar­an­tee of GOP un­an­im­ity be­hind a bill al­low­ing in­creased spend­ing, even if Speak­er John Boehner per­mits a vote on a res­ol­u­tion of dis­sent.

The Re­pub­lic­an man­euv­er­ing con­tin­ues as the House is sched­uled to ad­journ on Thursday for all of Au­gust and in­to early Septem­ber. As a res­ult, time is run­ning out for Boehner to de­cide wheth­er to try to pass a bill be­fore the break in re­sponse to Obama’s re­quest, wheth­er it would be an ef­fort real­ist­ic­ally de­signed to get through both cham­bers, and wheth­er he will need to rely on Demo­crat­ic votes to do so.

Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers on Monday night were fi­nal­iz­ing lan­guage on the bill, to be presen­ted to House Re­pub­lic­ans in a closed-door con­fer­ence on Tues­day morn­ing. But rather than provid­ing fund­ing through the end of this cal­en­dar year—as was un­der con­sid­er­a­tion last week—Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee Chair­man Har­old Ro­gers said Monday that this ver­sion would re­quire the money provided to be used by Sept. 30.

He would not identi­fy the pre­cise amount of fund­ing in the plan, oth­er than to say it would be un­der $1 bil­lion and would be off­set by spend­ing cuts else­where in the fed­er­al budget. Some sources have in­dic­ated it will be much less than $1 bil­lion.

Re­gard­less, it is ex­pec­ted to be sig­ni­fic­antly less than the Demo­crat­ic-led Sen­ate’s $2.7 bil­lion plan—which the White House said on Monday the ad­min­is­tra­tion sup­ports—and would be a greatly scaled back ver­sion of the pres­id­ent’s ini­tial $3.7 bil­lion re­quest. That might not be a prob­lem for the ad­min­is­tra­tion: The Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice has pro­jec­ted that even un­der Obama’s pro­pos­al, just $25 mil­lion would ac­tu­ally be spent through Septem­ber.

“I think this bill is a fair, even-handed, suf­fi­cient ap­proach to solve the prob­lem. What the Sen­ate does, we’ll have to wait and see,” said Ro­gers, adding he was op­tim­ist­ic it could pass the House.

Against this back­drop, some fisc­al con­ser­vat­ives who have op­posed any more spend­ing did not ap­pear to be back­ing off Monday on their in­sist­ence that they be able to make their case on the House floor. That was un­der­scored in ef­forts to get a vote on a res­ol­u­tion au­thored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ar­iz., and sent Monday to House lead­ers. A copy was ob­tained by Na­tion­al Journ­al.

That word­ing de­clares that, “Where­as the Pres­id­ent cur­rently has the ne­ces­sary tools at his dis­pos­al to solve the hu­man­it­ari­an crisis at the bor­der with ex­ist­ing fund­ing from Con­gress,” that “Now, there­fore be it re­solved: That the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives agrees with the Pres­id­ent that there is an ac­tu­al hu­man­it­ari­an crisis on the bor­der that only un­der­scores the need to drop the polit­ics and fix our im­mig­ra­tion sys­tem once and for all.”

The res­ol­u­tion fur­ther calls on the pres­id­ent “to use the re­sources already at his dis­pos­al to gain cer­ti­fi­able con­trol of the bor­der.”

Among the courses of ac­tion re­com­men­ded in the res­ol­u­tion would be for the pres­id­ent to “cease re­leas­ing con­victed crim­in­al ali­ens from de­ten­tion,” be­gin “crack­ing down on fraud­u­lent asylum claims,” and be “giv­ing Bor­der Patrol agents ac­cess to fed­er­al lands where drug traf­fick­ers, hu­man smug­glers, and un­law­ful mi­grants hide.”

In ad­di­tion, the res­ol­u­tion ac­cuses the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of hav­ing sent “a broad sig­nal to un­law­ful im­mig­rants that, once they enter the United States, they can re­main here in vi­ol­a­tion of the law without con­sequence.” It de­mands that Obama in­stead “send a clear mes­sage that those who are seek­ing to enter the United States il­leg­ally will be re­turned to their home coun­tries.”

The res­ol­u­tion says the House stands ready to work with the pres­id­ent so that these “calls to ac­tion are real­ized as ex­ped­i­tiously as pos­sible.”

Franks de­clined to com­ment on his res­ol­u­tion. But a seni­or GOP aide said the res­ol­u­tion has a clear pur­pose: “It should be a mat­ter of re­cord that even without any ad­di­tion­al fund­ing, Obama has the ne­ces­sary tools to be­gin stem­ming the flow of un­law­ful mi­grants.”

The aide ad­ded that many Re­pub­lic­ans ex­pressed their sup­port for such a vote in meet­ings last week of both the Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee and the en­tire House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence.

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