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House Drops Border Bill, Tells President They Are Suing For Acting Alone To Act Alone

Capitol Dome

As I noted earlier today, the House’s version of a supplemental spending bill to deal with the border crisis was imperiled by opposition from Tea Party groups, led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz who has spent the last several days lobbying House Republicans to vote against the bill proposed by their own leadership. As the day began, though, it looked as tough the House would actually go forward with a vote, though, and debate on the bill actually proceeded to the point where the House would be ready to vote on the bill later today. In the end, though, the House pulled the bill from the floor, obviously because there were not sufficient votes to pass it:

WASHINGTON — Facing a rebellion among their most conservative ranks, House Republicans were forced on Thursday to scuttle an emergency spending measure to address the surge of young Central American migrants at the southern border, in a major embarrassment to the new leadership team.

House Republicans, who have long called for strengthening security at the nation’s southern border, are now forced to head home for the five-week August recess with nothing to show for their efforts — something many Republicans fear will be an enormous political liability.

The blow to Speaker John A. Boehner and his new team — including Representatives Kevin McCarthy of California, the new majority leader, and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the whip — ensures that no legislation to address what both Democrats and Republicans call an urgent humanitarian crisis will reach President Obama’s desk before the August break.

“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference — and among the American people — about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws,” House Republican leaders said in a statement. “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”

The leaders had hoped to push through a modest $659 million emergency spending measure, well short of the $2.7 billion that Senate Democrats had proposed and the $3.7 billion that President Obama had requested.

Mr. Boehner and his team had scrambled to hold together their already fragile coalition to support the border bill by promising members a vote on an additional measure designed to curb Mr. Obama’s executive authority to stop the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants, including those brought to the country as young children.

The leaders had hoped to push through a modest $659 million emergency spending measure, well short of the $2.7 billion that Senate Democrats had proposed and the $3.7 billion that President Obama had requested.

Mr. Boehner and his team had scrambled to hold together their already fragile coalition to support the border bill by promising members a vote on an additional measure designed to curb Mr. Obama’s executive authority to stop the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants, including those brought to the country as young children.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the House GOP Caucus embarress the House Leadership like this. It happened several times in the run-up to last year’s government shutdown, it happened when the House failed to pass a bill for emergency aid for Hurricane Sandy, and it happened during the Summer 2011 debt debacle. On each occasion, as in this case, the leadership bent over backwards to give the most extreme wing of the GOP Caucus what it wanted and it usually still wasn’t good enough. On some occasions, Speaker Boehner was willing to buck his caucus and put a bill on the floor that he knew would only pass with Democratic support, but that doesn’t appear to be an option this time because the Democratic Caucus in the House opposes the Republican bill both because the funding provided is a mere fraction of what the President is saying is necessary, and also less than the amount the Senate bill would authorize, and because it would eliminate some legal protections for the Central American migrants claiming asylum under the applicable law. So, either the House passes a bill that a majority of Republicans can support or they pass nothing and, now, it looks like they will pass nothing.

The tweets from Congressional reports on the scene this afternoon tell the story:

Perhaps the most ironic thing about all of this, though, is in the statement that House Leadership released when the bill was pulled:

“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws. There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries. For the past month, the House has been engaged in intensive efforts to pass legislation that would compel the president to do his job and ensure it can be done as quickly and compassionately as possible. Through an inclusive process, a border bill was built by listening to members and the American people that has the support not just of a majority of the majority in the House, but most of the House Republican Conference. We will continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing our country.”

Let this sink in for a minute. The same House of Representative that just yesterday evening voted to sue the President of the United States, something no House in American history has ever done before, because he was acting on his own in areas where Congress refused to act is saying that the President can solve the border crisis on his own without Congress acting. I’m not sure if the correct word here is irony or chutzpah, but it’s certainly something. 

In any case, House Republicans are apparently meeting late this afternoon to try to see if they can pull some kind of bill together before everyone leaves town, but it’s not looking good. And if the bill that they pulled wasn’t going to have much of a shot of passing, it seems hard to see what they could propose that will have a chance at passage. 

Update: The House Leadership has announced that the House will be back in session tomorrow, presumably to try to hammer out some kind of border bill, starting with a GOP Caucus Conference tomorrow morning. It’s unclear if the Senate will still be in session at that point, though.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    The entire Republican party has become a clown car with no driver. If I were Boehner I would quit and get a job on K Street.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  2. Tony W says:

    Maybe Sarah Palin is competent to lead this group after all…..

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  3. legion says:

    Republicans are children. Developmentally disabled, emotionally stunted children. All of them. If you vote for them – any of them – you are part of the problem.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  4. beth says:

    And I thought the homophone story would be the most ridiculous thing I would read today. If this day doesn’t put The Onion out of business, nothing will.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  5. Jr says:

    Yet there is still 45-50% of this country that will vote for these clowns……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. Mu says:

    Boehner is going to campaign for democrats this summer so he can get out of that job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  7. CB says:

    When you’ve lost Doug Mataconis…

    Pathetic and disgusting. What else is there to say?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  8. Another Mike says:

    @Mu:

    Boehner is going to campaign for democrats this summer so he can get out of that job.

    That’s actually somewhat funny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Stonetools says:

    “I’m not a member of an organized party. I’m a Republican !”

    Let’s face it. Even John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and the SNL writing team couldn’t come up with anything more clownish than this spectacle. It’s the patriotic duty of all Americans to vote the whole dysfunctional lot out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  10. Stonetools says:

    The good thing about all this is that the President can take any executive action he pleases, pointing to this broad grant of discretion offered by the Republican House. Pelosi, Reid and Obama must all be ROFLTAO.
    Mean while, I expect all the various conservative commenters yammering earlier about executive overreach to go dark for a few days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. michael reynolds says:

    So, the GOP’s Hispanic outreach is going pretty well.

    Let this sink in for a minute. The same House of Representative that just yesterday evening voted to sue the President of the United States, something no House in American history has ever done before, because he was acting on his own in areas where Congress refused to act is saying that the President can solve the border crisis on his own without Congress acting. I’m not sure if the correct word here is irony or chutzpah, but it’s certainly something.

    I’ve said from Day #1 that the reason Obama acts alone is that Congress has abdicated. More evidence, as though more were needed.

    Someone has to run this country. Someone has to be in charge. And that is how dictatorships really are born, just as they were 2058 years ago in Rome – not because one strong man comes along, but because 100 weak, selfish and stupid men create a power vacuum.

    The Tea Party are traitors to this country, undermining this nation’s institutions. And the GOP are collaborators for enabling them. This is dangerous what these cretins are doing. This is bad for the country. This is the worst stuff I’ve seen in politics since Nixon. These are bad people.

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  12. Tillman says:

    Eh, in a week the meme will be the Democrats pushed the entire idea of even needing to do anything about immigration reform/”alleged” border crises.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. KM says:

    Let this sink in for a minute. The same House of Representative that just yesterday evening voted to sue the President of the United States, something no House in American history has ever done before, because he was acting on his own in areas where Congress refused to act is saying that the President can solve the border crisis on his own without Congress acting. I’m not sure if the correct word here is irony or chutzpah, but it’s certainly something.

    Admiral Ackbar’s eternal truth: It’s a trap!

    I’d give them credit for cunning but I don’t think they’re smart enough to have done it deliberately…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. bill says:

    @legion: true, we could all vote for sheila jackson….there’s a brilliant scholar/beacon of democracy! .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  15. Xenos says:

    No votes to pass a bill?

    All you would need are twenty republicans to vote with the democrats, and you could have a bill.

    Under the circumstances we have an emergency situation and explicit abdication by Congress. The President should have maximum flexibility under the law to craft ad hoc measures until Congress comes to its senses and passes something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I love this part:

    Through an inclusive process, a border bill was built by listening to members and the American people that has the support not just of a majority of the majority in the House, but most of the House Republican Conference.

    Heh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. Rob in CT says:

    And that is how dictatorships really are born, just as they were 2058 years ago in Rome – not because one strong man comes along, but because 100 weak, selfish and stupid men create a power vacuum.

    Michael, that’s not my read of how the Roman Republic went down.

    The Roman Republic had some serious design flaws. The squabbles of the elite (strong men like Sulla and, later, Caesar) over the spoils of the late Republic’s successes broke it.

    The original design was that of a city-state (Roman Kingdom -> Early Republic). Then they started taking over more and more territory, and had to figure out how to deal with that, along with how to deal with leadership in time of war. So you get (temporary) dictators. Add in some more growth, and now a single dictator isn’t good enough. Now you’ve got multiple strong men in command of armies competing with one another.

    And that competition got hotter and hotter until you finally get civil war. Before that, there was essentially gang violence on the streets of Rome, if I recall correctly (edit: yep. Culminating in the assignation of Tiberius Graccus). Eventually, it went all the way.

    I don’t see “weakness” as the key factor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Sherparick says:

    @Stonetools: Certainly clownish if these folks cared anything about actually governing the United States for the benefit of its people, but that is not their goal. Their goal is hold power, prevent any Democratic President or Congress from governing if the Right wing is out of power, and when back in power to cut taxes for the rich and run continuous level of war, which has a trifecta of letting them have Churchill fantasies, keep paranoia and rage up among their constituents, and fire hose the Government money to corporations and and the people who run them for those wars and disasters like the F-35. Also justifies lots of hippie punching and putting minorities in their place. As Steve M. points out it is unlikely a single Republican will lose his seat because of this vote. http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2014/07/name-me-one-republican-wholl-lose-in.html#links

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Barry says:

    @Xenos: “All you would need are twenty republicans to vote with the democrats, and you could have a bill.”

    The Democratic Reps in the House have no incentive to bail out the Tea Party from their own stupidity. In addition, the Tea Party would immediately attack them for ‘letting hordes of aliens in’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Tillman says:

    I’m watching a press conference Obama’s holding right now, and he brought up the immigration proposal House Republicans couldn’t pass. He is having a hard time not laughing as he talks about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Midwestern Dad says:

    The title to this article appears to be an Onion article. There are times in life when the truth (Michael Jackson marries Elvis’s daughter) is strangers and funnier then satire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “Eh, in a week the meme will be the Democrats pushed the entire idea of even needing to do anything about immigration reform/”alleged” border crises. ”

    Seconded.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0