House Republicans, with Georgia votes, pass immigration bills

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U.S. House Republicans were finally able to cobble together enough votes Friday night to pass two bills intended to address the immigration crisis at the Texas border before they adjourned for a five-week recess.

Voting almost entirely along party lines, the House voted 223-189 to approve a $694 million supplemental appropriations bill that would provide some funding for the federal government to deal with nearly 60,000 unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who have tried to enter the U.S.

House Republicans also voted 216-192 to pass a bill that would roll back the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that delays the deportation of young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents.

That bill would prohibit federal agencies from authorizing new work visas for immigrants, expanding the number of immigrants allowed into the country, or designating new classes of immigrants as eligible for deferred action.

The funding bill was supported by eight of Georgia’s nine Republican House members – only Rep. Paul Broun of Athens voted against it. All five of Georgia’s House Democrats voted against the funding bill; the only House Democrat who voted for the measure was Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas.

The bill to freeze the DACA program similarly was supported by all nine of Georgia’s Republicans, who were joined by Democratic Rep. John Barrow of Augusta. The other four Democrats from Georgia voted against it.

The votes were taken late Friday after House Republican leaders struggled all week to craft legislation that the GOP majority would support.

As with so many other issues debated in Congress this session, Friday’s votes were largely symbolic actions. Neither of the bills is expected to come up for a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Georgia’s Republicans were claiming victory anyway with the passage of the immigration measures.

“We have to stop him (Obama) from causing further damage to the rule of law, to the integrity of our nation’s borders and to the well-being of American citizens and those children being smuggled across our border,” said Rep. Tom Price of Roswell.

“Using executive orders to grant deportation deferrals isn’t a solution either, and the House proved again today that we will not let the president use DACA to trample over the law to delay dealing with the real issue,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Sharpsburg.

“By passing this bill, the House prevented President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from getting what they wanted – an opportunity for de facto amnesty and the status quo,” Westmoreland said.

“With the legislation passed by the House today, neither funding nor legislative uncertainty can be used as an excuse,” said Rep. Rob Woodall of Gwinnett County. “The House has provided both the dollars and the statutory direction to quickly and safely reunite these children with their families in their home country.”

The conservative Wall Street Journal was a little more skeptical about the House votes, saying in an editorial, “the GOP again gave the country the impression that its highest policy priority is to deport as many children as rapidly as possible back from wherever they came.”

“House Republicans may have scrambled enough on Friday to save themselves from a total meltdown,” the Journal said, “but this latest immigration debacle won’t help the party’s image, which is still recovering from the government shutdown debacle.”

In a Friday press conference, President Obama said the bills passed by the House would not progress any farther and hinted that he will issue more executive orders on immigration during the August recess.

“While they’re out on vacation, I’m going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress,” Obama said.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Barack Obama , immigrant children , immigration , John Barrow , Lynn Westmoreland , Paul Broun , Rob Woodall , Tom Price , U.S. House