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    Super Moderator imblest's Avatar
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    House Conservatives Push to Delay Vote on Border-Security Bill

    House Conservatives Push to Delay Vote on Border-Security Bill

    9:34 am ET
    Jan 26, 2015

    By Kristina Peterson

    Pictured, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents compare notes as they patrol near the Texas-Mexico border in September.--Associated Press

    Some House Republicans are pushing to delay a vote scheduled for Wednesday on a border-security bill, concerned in part over how it might be deployed in the Senate, according to GOP aides.

    Stoked by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), conservatives in the House have raised concerns over the effectiveness of a border bill approved last week by the House Homeland Security Committee. But their worries also extend to whether the measure could be used in the Senate to steer the GOP strategy away from seeking to block President Barack Obama‘s executive order on immigration and toward a less confrontational approach.

    Less than a month after Republicans officially took the helm of both chambers of Congress, the debate over immigration is raising tensions between the party’s right flank and those eager to demonstrate the GOP can govern effectively.

    Republicans are grappling with how they can challenge Mr. Obama’s November decision to bypass Congress and shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. GOP leaders late last year opted to extend Homeland Security funding only through February, while keeping the rest of the government running through September. They hoped to use Homeland Security funding as leverage this year to press back on Mr. Obama’s immigration policy.

    The House earlier this month approved a bill extending Homeland Security funding through September that also contained provisions rolling back a series of steps Mr. Obama has taken on immigration in recent years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has said the Senate will vote on the bill, but it faces little chance of passing with no apparent support from Senate Democrats. Republicans hold 54 seats in the Senate, short of the 60 votes most bills need to clear procedural hurdles.

    The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill from House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R., Texas). The bill provides $10 billion for equipment and technology along the Southwest border, including an array of drones, surveillance systems for land and sea, radar and fencing. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) have introduced a similar measure in the Senate.

    GOP leaders have made clear that while they want to challenge the president’s immigration policy, they’re not going to let funding for Homeland Security lapse at a time of high-profile terrorism threats world-wide.

    That has some conservatives worried that the Senate might drop the effort to block implementation of the president’s executive order and try to either combine the Homeland Security funding with components from the border bill, or redirect attention to it as an example of GOP-oriented immigration policy.

    Last week Rep. Raul Labrador (R., Idaho) said it would be a mistake to combine the Homeland Security funding with the border bill, rather than challenge Mr. Obama’s executive order.

    “The moment that we bring them together, I think we lose the argument,” Mr. Labrador said, refuting the idea that Senate Republicans are hamstrung because they only have 54 votes. “Well, if that’s going to be the attitude from the Senate, then we’re not going to win any battles. We might as well just tell Harry Reid he can continue to lead the Senate.”

    Senate GOP leaders haven’t indicated yet how they plan to proceed with the Homeland Security funding.

    The border bill is “just another piece of the puzzle we need to figure out,” Mr. Cornyn told reporters last week. “The president’s unconstitutional overreach needs to be addressed by all means necessary: legislation, appropriations and litigation.”

    But some conservatives are worried that by funding most of the government last December — and with no one willing to jeopardize national security funding — Republicans have no good options for challenging the president.

    “In my mind, the die was cast in December,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R., Kansas) said last week. “Plan B always seems to be not taking on this president.”
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