House Passes Pointless, Doomed Bill To Protest Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration

The House approved a bill to protest the President's executive action on immigration that will go nowhere. The question is whether it will placate the right.

Capitol Building

As the clock ticks down on the government’s ability to spend money on December 10th, the House yesterday passed a bill clearly meant as an effort by leadership to placate conservatives upset with the President’s execution action on immigration:

House Republicans took their first vote against President Barack Obama’s action on immigration on Thursday — passing a tea party bill that Hill leaders hope will offer conservatives enough catharsis to prevent a government shutdown next week.

The legislation cleared the Republican-led chamber 219 to 197, with three Republicans voting present. Seven Republicans bucked their party and voted with Democrats against the bill, while three Democrats voted for it. The Senate is not expected to take up the measure, and Obama promised Thursday to veto it, if it landed on his desk.

The question is whether the vote will grease the wheels for a deal on a government-funding measure next week. Some conservatives had wanted to tie Obama’s action on immigration to a funding deal and Speaker of the House John Boehner and his allies in leadership hope the vote today will satisfy them, instead.

Leaders are considering a measure that would fund nearly all federal agencies except the Department of Homeland Security through September 2015 with DHS — which handles immigration issues — funded only until February. Conservatives have yet to rally around the plan, which will likely be unveiled early next week, just days before the Dec. 11 deadline to avert a government shutdown.

Tea party star Rep. Ted Yoho, a large-animal veterinarian from Florida, drafted the legislation. He explained it’s meant to send Obama a message.

“This bill’s not about border security, work visas, E-Verify or immigration reform,” Yoho said on the House floor. “This is about the [administration] overstepping its bounds and unilaterally challenging the laws of this great nation of ours.”

Yoho’s bill says presidents cannot categorically exempt immigrants from being subject to deportations; such actions would be declared “null and void and without legal effect” under the legislation.

Even the bill’s biggest supporters admit the vote is more about symbolism than substance.

When asked by a reporter whether Republicans were taking the Yoho bill seriously, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) replied: “I don’t even know if Ted [Yoho] is.”

“I think people believe that it’s a very symbolic gesture,” Salmon added. “Everybody knows it’s going to end up in Harry Reid’s drawer anyway.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) stressed again Thursday that he wouldn’t bring the bill up for a vote in his chamber — arguing that it “tears families apart while doing nothing to fix the real problems we face.”

“Unfortunately for anyone who wants to see Congress fix our broken immigration system, the Republican approach is being dictated by the most extreme voices in their party,” Reid said. “Republicans’ knee-jerk resistance to working with Democrats to fix this problem left the president with no option but to take action to protect families from being separated.”

To many, this opening move by House leadership will sound eerily familiar. In the weeks prior to the October 2013 government shutdown, there were similar efforts made by Boehner and the rest of the House GOP Leadership to provide Republican House members who had been whipped into a frenzy by the Tea Party groundswell, led by Ted Cruz, that was convinced it could use the impending need to pass a budget to get the President to agreed to defund the signature legislation of his first term in office. Those efforts to placate failed completely, of course, and House Republicans were led inevitably to the point where they had to choose between shutting down the government and insisting on a negotiating strategy that included an opening demand that every sane person knew the President would never agree to. We know which choice they made, of course, and it led to a two week long government shutdown that did serious damage to the Republican Party’s approval numbers that was only alleviated by the fact that it was quickly followed by the disastrous roll out of the Affordable Care Act websites on both the Federal and State levels.

This time around, Congress is faced with a similar deadline. Unless a new funding bill, either permanent through the end of the new Fiscal Year on September 30, 2015, or just temporary until some point after January 3rd to give the new Congress the ability shape the budget itself, is passed by next week’s deadline then we will have another government shutdown that, at the very least, could result in a whole new round of Capitol Hill drama in the final weeks of the 113th Congress. While some seem to think that yesterday’s vote, which will die in the Senate, will be enough to at least temporarily placate conservatives there are signs that indicate that this may not be the case. The President’s decision to take unilateral action on immigration has not gone over well among conservatives in general or the Tea Party specifically, which has been using the weeks since the announcement to rally supporters via rallies and fundraising drives, and has been pressuring the more conservative members of Congress to take immediate action to block the President’s attempted changes to deportation Housrocedures and policies. This has led to several reports of deep divisions among House Republicans about how best to respond to the President, with the most conservative wing of the caucus arguing for something more than just symbolic votes like the one that occurred yesterday. That could lead Speaker Boehner and the rest of the House leadership to be faced with the choice of either trying to find a way to placate these members even further, a strategy which would be similar to the one that led to the October 2013 shutdown, or seek support for a funding bill from members of the House Democratic Caucus, a move that would cause tension with the hard right just as the GOP begins taking control of Congress for the next two years.

As things stand, my guess is that the leadership in the House and Senate will do what’s needed to get a budget deal done, even if it just ends up being a temporary one that kicks the can down the road to February or March. By all accounts, none of them wants to relive the shutdown drama of 15 months ago, especially not on the eve of retaking the power that they had lost back in 2006. It’s like to be a pretty dramatic week, though, so stay tuned.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Slugger says:

    There lots of other actions they might take. All Republicans will unfriend Obama on their FB accounts. They’ll make a big party with music and dancing and not invite him. They’ll phone Domino’s with a order for a large anchovy pizza to be delivered to the White House. Watch out, Barry, the wrath of the Republicans is hard to bear!

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Look how much of what the GOP does involves placating the remains of the Tea Party.

    The Republican Party had a moment in the 1960’s when it could have joined Democrats in supporting civil rights while continuing to promote a conservative economic agenda. Instead they followed Richard Nixon down the path to the dark side.

    That deal with the devil led inevitably to this present era where the GOP is completely captive to a brain dead, nihilistic, unpatriotic, racist, sexist, homophobic, hate-fueled, ignorant, rage-addicted minority.

    He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon. The GOP didn’t bring a spoon at all, just a tube of KY jelly and knee pads. And now, here they are. Inert. Paralyzed. In a vegetative state.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Why are we paying these babies $175K a year to do nothing????

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: Except of course, for all the money and CEC media they bring to the game. I’m not going to cheer their demise ’til they’re gone.

  5. Moosebreath says:

    Meh. If even the people proposing it know this is just sounding off, and it allows useful work to be done afterwards, I am in favor of it. It’s not like both sides don’t have lots of symbolic votes on things which they know will never pass.

  6. Will says:
  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Will: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m content to let Doug write on whatever topics Doug wishes to write on.

  8. anjin-san says:


    Google Blogger is simple and costs nothing. Feel free to start your own blog and write about any topic that pleases you.

  9. Will says:


    It’s just a suggestion. Next time, I’ll just email Doug. My sincere apologies for interrupting this thread.

  10. Will says:


    i was just a little surprised to not to see the topic covered. It’s usually something that Doug will write about. That’s all. Thanks for the tip about Google, but i don’t have time for a blog. Besides, I think you’d miss me too much. Enjoy the weekend!

  11. humanoid.panda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Republican Party had a moment in the 1960’s when it could have joined Democrats in supporting civil rights while continuing to promote a conservative economic agenda. Instead they followed Richard Nixon down the path to the dark side

    As a side note, Robert Caro shows that in the late 1950s, Nixon made a real push to get a strong civil rights bill through Senate (basically, as President pro-tem of Senate, he tried to conduct a coup, ruling that the filibuster rule didn’t exist during the first post-1958 midterm meeting of Congress, and allowing liberals to design a new set of rules that would have seriously diminished the South hold on legislation). That effort was squashed by LBJ, in his position as the South’s own majority leader.
    This of course means that the following scenario was possible: Nixon leading the GOP as coalition of minorities and upscale suburbanites vs. LBJ leading the Democrats as party of downscale Whites everywhere! As a writer, just imagine what alternative histories could be crafted out that one!

  12. CSK says:

    It will garner Ted Cruz some more slobbering adulation from the fringe, which as far as Cruz is concerned is all that matters. It’s all that matters to the fringe, too: They love pointless histrionics and self-serving posturing.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    I can see no downside to Obama’s executive action on immigration.
    Enrage Republicans?
    They’ve been enraged since Inauguration Day 2009.
    Poison the well?
    Republicans poisoned it in 2009.
    Threat of impeachment?
    Republicans can impeach the president without this executive action, Please see Benghazi!, IRS non-profit status actions, “Fast & Furious” etc.
    Republican Lawsuit against Obama’s action?
    See the list of plaintiff states, does it matter?

  14. michael reynolds says:

    Hah! I’m already about neck deep in an alternate history version of WW2 where the draft is extended to women. Since at present there is approximately zero market demand for young adult alt history I think I’ll hold off on any additional.

    But interesting, isn’t it? Nixon and LBJ, that’s a whole lot of cynicism right there.

  15. MikeSJ says:


    CSK says:

    It will garner Ted Cruz some more slobbering adulation from the fringe, which as far as Cruz is concerned is all that matters. It’s all that matters to the fringe, too: They love pointless histrionics and self-serving posturing.

    Money. Adulation. Prime speaking gigs for them on the right wing circuit. And more Money.

    Once you understand they don’t care about the future of the Republican Party but only are concerned with what benefits them personally does this make sense.

    Their base is shrinking but enough exist in rural districts to ensure their elections and keep them on the gravy train so it’s all good as far as they are concerned. I’m also not 100% convinced the base realizes this is all theater. I think an awful lot of them really do believe Ted Cruz can do what he says he’s going to do.

    It’s kinda sad actually.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I don’t know whether to call my GOP congress critter and tell him to go for the gusto or just tell him he’s an idiot.

  17. PJ says:


    Are you going to write about Israel and Obama?

    No US administration has considered the annexation of and the building of settlements in parts of the West Bank or East Jerusalem legal.

    It would be great if Obama actually leveled sanctions against Israel because of it, but I believe that when I see it.

  18. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Since at present there is approximately zero market demand for young adult alt history

    Is this is what your publisher is saying, or is it what your own market analysis (and/or gut) is telling you? Regardless, this is an assumption that I think needs challenging.

    From my perspective, any distopian YA title is just alt-history gussied up with various degrees of SF world building. What is Bella “Catnip” Johanssen but an avatar of a young woman who is in a troubling “What If” America?

  19. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Since at present there is approximately zero market demand for young adult alt history

    Hmm. Eric Flint’s “1632” franchise seems to be grinding along quite nicely, with a quality of writing that can at best be called “uneven”. I think there’s a lot of room for YA variants of that kind of thing. Of course, Baen Books is its own little bubble of spacetime, not quite connected to the rest of the universe…

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl: @DrDaveT:

    I’m lowering expectations.

    Publishers have no market research. You’ve never seen a business with less data. Writers and editors are just guessing.

    Actually, my thinking was exactly that dystopian YA has created a market for female-driven action. In fact it’s likely that our own Animorphs laid the groundwork for action girls and thus dystopian YA. The timing is right, anyway.

    But there’s no telling if they’ll go for 17 year-olds who run from German tanks at Kasserine Pass rather than saving the world while coping with two hot guys. I’ll be on tour a lot trying to make it happen. Coming to a sad little card table in the corner of a bookstore near you in early 2016.

  21. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: Please include Haslam’s excellent bookstore in St Pete so I can shake your hand.

  22. JoshB says:

    As a St. Pete resident, I second that!

  23. Dave says:

    @michael reynolds: Just curious, but what do you thing is the percentage of clearly over 21 adults who read YA? I’ve just noticed there seems to a fairly large number of them. I’m not sure that’s actually correct and I don’t mean to insult anybody on this blog, but 30+ year olds regularly reading YA novels makes me a little … uncomfortable? I can understand occasionally reading one as a sort of exercise in nostalgia, but regularly? If I’m right any insight? Not that I’m expecting you to insult any (potential/actual) readers.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    According to the study it was 55% adult. Of course that number is skewed due to break-out hits like HUNGER GAMES and HARRY POTTER. HG outsells me by probably a 100 to 1. So if Suzanne’s readers are 60% adult that will swamp me and various other more midlist performers who may be primarily selling to the targeted demo. (Although actually I probably skew a little older, too, but you get my point.)

    Obviously if you’re selling 3 or 4 million books you’re not selling them to 14 year-olds. There just aren’t that many teen-agers.

    An illustration of how little actual data we have: I was on the phone with an editor yesterday and we were using the perceived enthusiasm of Tweets as a metric for a decision.

  25. Grewgills says:

    I think that really depends on the YAF, not all of it is exclusively appealing to younger audiences and some of it is much better written than popular adult lit. It seems like any book where the protagonist is teen or younger is labelled YA. Ender’s Game is YA, but readable as are the examples Michael gave. If I had to make snap judgments about someone based on their reading choices I would think less of someone reading Dan Brown than Ender’s Game, Harry Potter, or Hunger Games.