After having to yank their border crisis legislation, House Republicans scrambled on Friday morning to coalesce around a largely symbolic new proposal which spends $694 million and significantly toughens up laws against young undocumented immigrants and children coming from Central America.
Emerging from a meeting, many Republicans expressed confidence they’ll have the votes to pass the legislation on Friday — including Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN), two previous holdouts, who said the new bill would rein in President Barack Obama’s current and future actions to ease deportations for undocumented immigrants.
“This House is going to make a resounding statement today that says, ‘Stop, Mr. President. Don’t violate the Constitution,'” King said.
Bachmann called it “the most monumental vote that we will take in this entire term.” She said it was a “very good bill that people can be proud of,” declaring that it was about “stopping the invasion of illegal foreign nationals into our country.”
The bill is going nowhere in the Senate, and the White House threatened to veto an earlier version of it. The goal is to give Republicans political cover to tell their constituents they acted on the border crisis when they go home for recess.
Republicans decided to add $35 million in new funds to reimburse border states who called in the National Guard to help address the flow of some 57,000 unaccompanied minors, a senior Republican aide said. So far only Texas has done that.
The plan is to have two votes: the first one is on the supplemental and tougher border language to swiftly send home children coming from Central American countries. If that passes, there’ll be a second vote on the bill to end the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and stop the president from granting legal status to anyone in the U.S. illegally.
“I feel very confident that we’ll be able to put this behind us today,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), a deputy whip, told reporters.
On Thursday, GOP leaders pulled their legislation from the floor, worried they didn’t have the votes. They delayed the start of the August recess to work on a plan they could pass. It was an embarrassing start for the new leadership team, which assumed power on Thursday as Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) stepped down as majority leader.
The goal is to wrap up the proposal on Friday. House Republicans have paved the way for a speedy floor vote if they settle on legislation.
“We took a step back, reevaluated, engaged our colleagues and came up with a piece of legislation that I am very hopeful … that we can get it to the finish line today,” Womack said, cautioning that the situation remained “fluid.”
Florida Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, a lonely House Republican proponent of immigration reform, told TPM he’ll be voting for the supplemental but against the anti-DACA bill.
“I think ultimately, there’s a very strong desire by the Republican conference to get our job done,” he said.
House Democrats are reviewing the new GOP plan, and will probably oppose it en masse.
“Obviously they are making [the bill] worse so the dynamic is quite obvious,” said a House Democratic leadership aide, adding that King and Bachmann “are happy because they are in charge.”
This article has been updated.