Senate Dems May Have The Votes To Filibuster House GOP Immigration Plan

J. Scott Applewhite

House Republicans are pursuing a far-reaching strategy to stop Barack Obama on immigration that is drawing opposition even from Senate Democrats skeptical of the president’s executive actions, suggesting that the legislation will face a filibuster in the upper chamber.

Of the numerous Senate Democrats who have signaled opposition to Obama’s new executive actions on immigration, several have suggested to TPM in recent days that they oppose the House plan, which Republicans plan to attach to the funding of the Department of Homeland Security, which runs out of money on Feb. 28.

If a funding bill is not enacted by then, DHS would partially shut down.

Not only does the House package released Friday block Obama’s recent immigration moves, it also sunsets his 2012 program to protect young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children and attacks a series of 2011 administration memos to shift resources toward deporting the most dangerous immigrants.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is a “likely no” on the House GOP bill, his spokesman Jonathan Kott said in an email.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) said his preference is for Congress and not the president to fix the immigration system, but came out against the House plan.

“I wish the President wouldn’t have gone out on his own,” Tester said in a statement to TPM, “but threatening the Department of Homeland Security’s budget doesn’t solve the immigration crisis or strengthen our borders.”

The House GOP’s additional measures seem to have tempered the enthusiasm of more conservative Democrats in the Senate whose opposition to Obama’s executive actions made them winnable for Republicans. Another factor in play is that opposing the president’s actions after the midterm elections and while Democrats are in the minority in both chambers of Congress runs the risk of splintering party unity at a time when leaders are emphasizing it.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is unlikely to vote for the House bill, an aide said, adding that she prefers Congress take up the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013.

Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who said in November he’s “concerned about the impact of the President’s acting alone,” is not on board with the GOP proposal.

“Sen. King does not support the House bill,” his spokesman Scott Ogden said.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who was one of five Democrats to vote in September for a Republican motion to bring up amendments to stop Obama’s coming immigration actions, also opposes the House proposal.

“Senator Shaheen opposes the House bill,” her spokesman Nick Brown said.

A spokesman for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who has said she’s “not crazy about” Obama’s actions, wouldn’t say how the senator would vote on a potential bill, but added: “it’s certainly fair to say she thinks the only responsible way for Republicans to supersede this executive order is to finally consider debate and vote on comprehensive immigration reform.”

Although Democrats appear to lack the votes to stop the bill in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) signaled in a scathing statement the GOP won’t get much Democratic help in the lower chamber.

“It is clear Republicans’ partisan recklessness knows no limits,” she said in a statement on Monday. “House Republicans are threatening a partial government shutdown, choosing a time of rising terrorism to imperil the security of our entire country to satisfy the most radical anti-immigrant fringes of their party.”

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