WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – In what might be a historic vote for Republican lawmakers, the U.S. House of Representatives, which must originate all budget bills, voted 236-191 to approve funding for Homeland Security and simultaneously defund President Obama's amnesty action represented by the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals program which allowed thousands of "Dreamers" brought to the United States illegally by their parents to get work permits and avoid deportation.
The vote largely followed partisan lines with 234 Republicans and two Democrats supporting the bill and 181 Democrats along joined by 10 Republicans in opposing it. Five Democrats did not vote, and one Republican seat is vacant.
It was the approval of five amendments, all by Republicans, that essentially gutted the president's unilateral action on immigration through his DACA program:
-- Robert Aderholt of Decatur, Alabama, submitted prohibitions that "prevent any funds from whatever source to carry-out' the president's deferred actions program and essentially gutted "the 'Morton Memos' on prosecutorial discretion and immigration enforcement priorities issued in 2011 and 2012 that effectively prevent certain classes of unlawful aliens from being removed from the country."
-- Marsha Blackburn of Nashville, Tennessee, offered a change "that no funds may be used to consider new, renewal or previously denied DACA applications"
-- Ron DeSantis of Jacksonville, Florida, presented a motion to require the Department of Homeland Security to ensure aliens convicted of "domestic violence, sexual abuse, child molestation, or child abuse or exploration" are prosecuted under the highest level of civil immigration enforcement.
-- Matt Salmon of Phoenix, Arizona, addressed concerns about unfair advantages to aliens, saying "the Executive Branch should not pursue policies that disadvantage the hiring of U.S. citizens and those lawfully present in the United States by making it economically advantageous to hire workers who came to the country illegally."
-- Aaron Schock of Peoria, Illinois, echoed Salmon's sentiments, stating "the Administration should stop putting the interest of immigrants who worked within the legal framework to come to the U.S. beind those who came here illegally."
House Speaker John Boehner spoke before the floor debate to set the tone in terms of the president overstepping his authority.
"Today I rise, and the House rises to support and defend our Constitution," Boehner said. "We do not take this action lightly, but there is simply no alternative. It's not a dispute between parties or even branches of government. This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and the Constitution itself."
But Democrats like Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, called the bill with its amendments an assault on immigration that was holding Homeland Security "hostage."
The House must wait for action by the Republican-controlled Senate to address the bill, and to work out any differences if something is passed by this other chamber. Any bill coming out of the Congress must be signed by the president who has threatened to veto any Republican immigration and regulatory bills.