The House Republicans’ off-again, on-again relationship with themselves is back on. The Republican members of Congress have faced acrimonious divisions over the last few months—hey, Speaker Boehner—but right now they’re all happy, thanks to Obama.
This morning, they rolled out a plan to block the president’s immigration action. They want to fund the Department of Homeland Security—which is responsible for enforcing immigration law—while barring it from using funds to implement the unilateral immigration moves that the president put in place to temporarily block some deportations.
Immigration is usually a tough issue for Republicans. They’re torn regarding the best long-term fix for the country’s immigration system, with a chunk of the caucus in favor of comprehensive immigration reform that would include a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. On the other end of the spectrum, numerous House and Senate Republicans have pledged to oppose any policy change that would increase the levels of legal immigration. When it comes to stances on immigration, the House Republican caucus contains multitudes.
But they’re all happy as clams on a day like today, when they get to work together against the president. In November, Obama announced that he would move to temporarily put off deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Depending on which Republican you talk to, there’s a whole passel of problems with this move. But they all agree on one thing: The president didn’t have the Constitutional authority to do what he did, and he needs to be stopped.
Republicans passed a government-funding bill in December that only kept the Department of Homeland Security open through Feb. 27. The plan they rolled out this morning aims to simultaneously keep the agency open and keep funds from being available for implementation of the president’s most recent executive action. It would also block funding for the president’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (NBC News has more details here).
In their closed-door meeting this morning, House Republicans talked over the plan. Rep. Gregg Harper, a Mississippi Republican, said there was “no tension in the room.” And even Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who is one of the chamber’s most outspoken opponents of the president’s move, seemed tentatively pleased with the plan.
“If it does what it’s represented to do, then I think we’ll be fine with it,” he said.
The plan is not without hiccups. Brooks pointed out that it’s extremely unlikely the president would sign any legislation blocking his immigration move.
“Ultimately, in my opinion, this legislation is more for show than substance,” he said. “Ultimately, the president controls whether it becomes law, and he’s the one we’re trying to restrain from his illegal, unconstitutional acts.”
South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who’s responsible for the amendment that will specifically block funding for the president’s immigration move, shrugged when reporters asked about this.
“That’s several steps down the road,” he said. “And as much as I want to play chess, there is a certain sequence here you have to follow.”
He said he’s first interested in how many Democrats will back the Republicans’ plan. House Republicans are unlikely to get much (if any) support from Democrats. And it will be extraordinarily tough for Senate Republicans to win over enough of their Democratic colleagues to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a procedural hurdle for the bill.