House GOP Won’t Target DACA in Main Response to Obama’s Executive Orders

by Joel Gehrke

House Republicans have settled on a plan to withhold funding for President Obama’s most recent executive orders on immigration and related policies, but not the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that the president announced in the run-up to his reelection campaign.

The House will vote on a separate, stand-alone amendment that would withhold funding for the DACA program, according to an announcement from Representative Lou Barletta (R., Pa.), one of the lead authors on the original amendment. Both of these bills will be offered as amendments to the bill that finances the Department of Homeland Security beyond February 27.

The small groups of lawmakers negotiating the legislation seemed likely to include the DACA language in the larger package, but some Republicans pushed back on the idea during the House GOP conference meeting Friday morning. Republican representative Mike Coffman, who represents a tossup district with a significant Hispanic population, was among those arguing against the inclusion of the DACA language. (Coffman is one of the eleven Republicans who voted against attacking the DACA program when the issue came up during the summer border crisis.)

Some conservative lawmakers shared Coffman’s view, but for tactical reasons. Representative Mick Mulvaney (R., S.C.) “argued to leave DACA alone because that is what Obama will use to demagogue [Republicans] knowing that his adult amnesty is less popular,” one Republican congressman who was in the meeting tells National Review Online.

And so, DACA is out, but it gets a separate vote. Instead, the main legislation will include a ban on funding policies that are “substantially similar” to the November executive orders. “It also “prevent[s] any funds from any source from being used to carry out the so-called ‘Morton Memos,’ which directed immigration officers to ignore broad categories of illegal immigrants,” Barletta’s announcement says. Additionally, the bill declares that the president’s policies “have no basis in federal law or the Constitution and therefore have no legal effect.”

The lead authors on this final package are Barletta, Representative Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.), and Representative Mick Mulvaney. The bill is a compromise between Mulvaney (who preferred to focus on the November executive orders) and a more aggressive package that Aderholt and Barletta worked on with the help of Representative Lamar Smith (R., Texas).

“When we passed the cromnibus at the end of last year, I wanted to make sure that we fulfilled the promise that we would be back to block amnesty at the earliest possible moment,” Barletta says.  “If you look back at where we were in December, this bill will accomplish even more than we discussed back then.” 

You can read more about the negotiations here.

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