Head Smacker: House Extremists Waste Precious Time on Bill to Harm Millions of Immigrants
In his prime-time address announcing his executive action on immigration, President Obama challenged Congress – particularly those who oppose his action – to “pass a bill.” Today, the House took up that challenge. Unfortunately, they didn’t vote on the comprehensive immigration bill the Senate passed with strong bipartisan support well over a year ago, though. No, that bill still has yet to see the light of day in the House. Instead, the House wasted valuable floor time in their short lame duck session passing a bill to undo the President’s action, a bill that certainly won’t go anywhere in the Senate and would definitely be vetoed by the President even if it did (the bill passed 219-197; 3 Democrats supported the bill, while 7 Republicans opposed it and 3 Republicans voted ‘present’). It’s understandable if you’re having déjà vu, as this scenario is reminiscent of the more than 50 times the House has voted to repeal Obamacare.
Introduced by extremist Rep. Ted Yoho, the bill is just one of the anti-immigration moves opponents in the House are trying. It also seems likely they’ll only pass short-term stopgap funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under which most of the implementation of the executive action will take place. If the appropriations process goes through as planned (at least in this latest version of the plan), the rest of the government would be funded through the fiscal year, but DHS’ budget would be held hostage until the new Congress takes over next year. How this actually helps their cause is unclear, though, since even Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has said that because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency runs on fees collected, “the appropriations process cannot be used to ‘de-fund’ the agency.” Some extremists are saying these two measures don’t go far enough, and instead want language blocking the executive action from taking effect attached to the spending bills, even though this could jeopardize the entire appropriations process or cause another government shutdown.
Why some Members of Congress want to undo an action that helps millions of people and families and rights at least some of the wrongs with our immigration system is one part of this Head Smacker. Why they’d waste valuable time in the lame duck session with a short-term funding bill, and then waste more time on another funding bill for DHS in three months or so, when there are so many critical issues they should be dealing with instead is part two.
Roughly 17 million children are growing up in low-income households. Child homelessness is at a historic high in the U.S. Millions of working families depend on food banks and over 46 million Americans rely on SNAP to ensure they and their families have enough to eat. These are the things Congress should be dealing with. Wasting time on attempts to split more families apart, cause millions to live in fear, decrease payroll tax revenues by billions of dollars, and leave a large government agency without a budget to plan around isn’t.
[Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr]