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House Votes to Block President’s Unconstitutional Executive Order

January 19, 2015
Weekly Columns

At the end of last year and ahead of the 114th Congress, lawmakers in both chambers voted to fund the government and avert another painful and unnecessary shutdown. While the legislation funded nearly all areas of government through the end of the fiscal year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was only funded through February. This legislative strategy was enacted to allow the new majority in both chambers the opportunity to address the president’s unconstitutional executive order related to immigration and rightly block funding for its implementation.

As we remember, the president announced last November that he would grant legal status—by executive order—to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants. While the president announced the plan a couple months ago, the Administration isn’t expected to implement that plan until sometime this spring, according to fact sheets released upon the announcement. By only funding the DHS through February, the goal was to prevent funds from implementing the unconstitutional executive order. 

While the DHS appropriations portion funds areas related to immigration, there are also funds to protect our nation’s security and disaster and emergency preparedness and should be addressed with urgency. Especially in light of mounting threats at home and abroad, I am glad that lawmakers in the new Congress came together last week to determine DHS funding through the end of the fiscal year.

But lawmakers didn’t forget about the president’s intention to act unilaterally on immigration. Final passage of the DHS funding bill included five amendments that addressed the president’s unconstitutional plan. Inclusion of these amendments blocks funding from being used for the president’s granting of legal status, denies funds for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications and requires the greatest scrutiny and highest deportation priority to illegal immigrants guilty of sex crimes or domestic violence. The bill also includes language that condemns the Administration’s policy that is slanted in favor of illegal immigrants and expresses the need for reform that helps American and legal workers. 

While the House has acted responsibly and quickly, our colleagues in the upper chamber must also demonstrate the same commitment to the American people and immediately vote on similar legislation to responsibly fund the government and hold the president accountable. Even though the president has consistently shown little interest in working to find common ground and has gotten comfortable hiding behind a Senate that was previously led by his own party, I hope that he will choose to negotiate with lawmakers to solve issues with our immigration system—rather than foolishly relying on his veto pen. The American voters spoke loudly and clearly last November by repudiating the president’s party and his policies. He would do well to heed their voices.