House Republicans May Save Their Border Bill Friday

Two bills could get a vote Friday.

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner speaks during a press briefing July 31, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. 
National Journal
Billy House and Tim Alberta
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Billy House Tim Alberta
Aug. 1, 2014, 5:45 a.m.

House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers on Fri­day morn­ing un­veiled a beefed-up emer­gency fund­ing pack­age deal­ing with the south­ern bor­der crisis, an at­tempt to win over some con­ser­vat­ive hol­d­outs after the ori­gin­al le­gis­la­tion was pulled from the House floor Thursday af­ter­noon.

The plan, as presen­ted to mem­bers in a morn­ing con­fer­ence meet­ing on what was sup­posed to be the first day of re­cess, is to stick to two sep­ar­ate bills which mem­bers will vote on later Fri­day. The first bill would be the straight fund­ing meas­ure that’s in­ten­ded to ad­dress the in­flux of un­ac­com­pan­ied minors com­ing to the U.S. from Hon­dur­as, El Sal­vador, and Guatem­ala. The second meas­ure ad­dresses the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals (DACA) ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion, but now in­cludes more mus­cu­lar changes pulled from earli­er le­gis­la­tion au­thored by Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn, R-Tenn.

As it stood Thursday, that bill would have pro­hib­ited the ad­min­is­tra­tion, and any fed­er­al agency, from is­su­ing “guid­ance, memor­andums, reg­u­la­tions, policies, or oth­er sim­il­ar in­stru­ments” to “newly au­thor­ize de­ferred ac­tion” for un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants.

But the ori­gin­al ver­sion as writ­ten by spon­sor Black­burn was tough­er, in that it pro­hib­ited spe­cif­ic types of fund­ing and such things as deny­ing any un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants on pro­ba­tion tem­por­ary per­mis­sion to work in the coun­try. That lan­guage has been re­turned to the bill.

The Black­burn bill also spe­cific­ally pro­hib­its the ad­min­is­tra­tion from spend­ing any funds on new ap­plic­a­tions for DACA. Thursday’s bill in­cluded no such pro­vi­sion.

House lead­er­ship has also ad­ded $35 mil­lion for the Na­tion­al Guard, and are send­ing money and re­sources dir­ectly to gov­ernors to use at their dis­cre­tion. This would now bring the cost of the bill up to $694 mil­lion, but the ad­ded money would be off­set with cuts else­where.

Tweaks were also made to the por­tion of the bill ad­dress­ing a 2008 anti-traf­fick­ing law, which has been a key stick­ing point for House Re­pub­lic­ans.

The new lan­guage still re­quires Cent­ral Amer­ic­an chil­dren to be offered vol­un­tary re­mov­al after cross­ing the bor­der, just like those from con­tigu­ous coun­tries. However, about 16 pages of the emer­gency sup­ple­ment­al were gut­ted, slim­ming down the bill’s pro­ced­ur­al lan­guage to mir­ror one au­thored by Rep. John Carter, R-Texas.

Ad­di­tion­ally, chil­dren must have an im­mig­ra­tion court hear­ing with­in 14 days, rather than the sev­en day re­quire­ment in the House Re­pub­lic­an’s ori­gin­al emer­gency sup­ple­ment­al bill. This change ac­counts for the high volume of un­ac­com­pan­ied minors flood­ing across the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, Carter told re­port­ers after ex­it­ing Fri­day’s private con­fer­ence meet­ing.

Lead­er­ship an­nounced that the rule on the re­vised bills would be de­bated shortly be­fore noon, set­ting the table for a pos­sible mid-af­ter­noon vote — and al­low­ing mem­bers to head to the air­port by Fri­day even­ing and re­turn to their dis­tricts for a five-week re­cess.

There are early signs that the re­vi­sions made Thursday night and an­nounced Fri­day morn­ing will be suc­cess­ful in se­cur­ing enough Re­pub­lic­an votes to pass the fund­ing pack­age.

Emer­ging from the closed-door meet­ing with col­leagues, House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers were cau­tiously op­tim­ist­ic that the re­worked pack­age has soothed con­cerns with­in their own ranks.

“We’ll see if this goes,” said Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy, emer­ging from a closed-door con­fer­ence of House Re­pub­lic­ans.

Speak­er John Boehner him­self would not com­ment, but new Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scal­ise — who is in charge of count­ing and round­ing up enough votes for pas­sage — said, “We’ll keep work­ing un­til we get it done.”

“I think we’re in very good shape,” said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Tex., who has headed Boehner’s spe­cial House Bor­der Work­ing Group. Re­com­mend­a­tions from that group were part of the pro­cess of put­ting the le­gis­la­tion to­geth­er. She said she ex­pec­ted a vote on Fri­day.

Mc­Carthy con­firmed that the re­worked pack­age still con­tains two bills.

“We’ll go back to Mar­sha’s ori­gin­al bill,” he said.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the House’s most hawk­ish voice on im­mig­ra­tion mat­ters, an­nounced in Fri­day morn­ing’s meet­ing that he’s sat­is­fied with the changes and will sup­port the pack­age on the House floor. King’s close friend and fel­low im­mig­ra­tion hard­liner, Rep. Michele Bach­mann of Min­nesota, pledged to do the same.

Rep. Black­burn emerged from the meet­ing say­ing she’ll sup­port the new pack­age. She also pre­dicted it will pass on the floor today.

“I think we’ll get there,” she said.

Rep. Matt Sal­mon, R-Ar­iz., a mem­ber of Granger’s work­ing group, char­ac­ter­ized the meet­ing as “the best rendi­tion of Kum­baya I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Not every­one is fully op­tim­ist­ic. “I’m not here to tell you that the votes are there,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., but it’s closer than yes­ter­day.

There may be at least one de­fect­or. “I am lean­ing no in part be­cause I don’t know what’s in it,” Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said after the meet­ing.

He needs more time — even just 24 to 48 more hours — to read through the pack­age’s changes, he said. It’s more im­port­ant to get something of this mag­nitude right, he said, than to be aboard an air­plane headed home by Fri­day night.

And Rep. John Flem­ing of Louisi­ana, who along with King had been lead­ing op­pos­i­tion to the bor­der pack­age, said he’s sat­is­fied with the new DACA lan­guage — but not the or­der of the votes.

“I’m very bothered by the fact that … they won’t make a com­mit­ment to vote on DACA first. So that tells me that DACA might fail after the bor­der bill passes,” Flem­ing said.

When asked wheth­er either bill stood a chance of be­com­ing law, Flem­ing replied: “Well no, not at all.”

Even if the fund­ing bill does pass, it faces likely death in the Sen­ate once the cham­ber is back from re­cess. On Thursday, the Sen­ate failed to pass its own $3.57 bil­lion fund­ing bill which would have al­loc­ated $2.7 bil­lion for the bor­der, far more money than the House is con­sid­er­ing.

Mem­bers said they were glad to go home hav­ing offered a solu­tion to the prob­lem, re­gard­less of wheth­er it be­comes law. “There’s al­ways hope the Sen­ate will come to their senses,” House Ap­pro­pri­ations Chair­man Hal Ro­gers, R-Ky., ad­ded. “I would hope the Sen­ate would come back and do their job.”

Rachel Roubein, Sarah Mimms and Matt Berman contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
No Lobbying Clinton’s Transition Team
2 hours ago

Hillary Clinton's transition team has in place strict rules to limit the influence that lobbyists could have "in crafting the nominee’s policy agenda." The move makes it unlikely, at least for now, that Clinton would overturn Obama's executive order limiting the role that lobbyists play in government

Federal Government Employees Giving Money to Clinton
2 hours ago

Federal employees from 14 agencies have given nearly $2 million in campaign donations in the presidential race thus far, and 95 percent of the donations, totaling $1.9 million, have been to the Clinton campaign. Employees at the State Department, which Clinton lead for four years, has given 99 percent of its donations to the Democratic nominee.

GOP Gives Last-Gasp Cash Infusion to Save Senate
3 hours ago

Trying to save control of the Senate, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is spending $25 million on six races over the last two weeks of the race. Republicans have been consistently outspent in a majority of the Senate races this cycle. Aside from spending in Nevada, all the spending will come in defense of Republican-held seats.

Assault on ISIS Headquarters Coming Soon
3 hours ago

In an NBC News interview, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the campaign against ISIS will expand to its headquarters in Raqqa in the "next few weeks." He also reiterated that U.S. forces will not be part of any occupation of territory should it be retaken from ISIS.

Clinton Super PAC Enters the House Fray
3 hours ago

Priorities USA, the super PAC aligned with the Clinton campaign, which has already gotten involved in two Senate races, is now expanding into House races. The group released a 30 second spot which serves to hit Donald Trump and Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, who is in a tough race to win re-election in Iowa's first congressional district. The super PAC's expansion into House and Senate races shows a high level of confidence in Clinton's standing against Trump.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.