House Republican leaders abruptly pulled their border supplemental legislation prior to a scheduled vote on Thursday, a sign that they lacked the votes to pass it. It appeared members would go home for recess without acting, a situation that GOP leaders wanted to avoid.
Immigration-weary conservatives said the $659 million supplemental, and the subsequent measure to end the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, didn’t go far enough in rebuking the president’s actions.
It was a remarkable defeat for the new GOP leadership team on the day that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) stepped down as majority leader.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced the decision in a joint statement with his new leadership team, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws. There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries. For the past month, the House has been engaged in intensive efforts to pass legislation that would compel the president to do his job and ensure it can be done as quickly and compassionately as possible. Through an inclusive process, a border bill was built by listening to members and the American people that has the support not just of a majority of the majority in the House, but most of the House Republican Conference. We will continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing our country.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was relieved by the GOP’s decision to pull the bill.
“Oh my god. It was so awful,” she told reporters. “Thank god.”
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told TPM in an email that the Nevada Democrat is pleased to see GOP leaders acknowledge that Obama has executive authority to act on immigration.
“Senator Reid agrees with House Republican leaders’ statement that President Obama has the authority to take steps on immigration reform on his own,” Jentleson said. “He’s glad Republicans have come around and hopes this means they’ll be dropping their frivolous lawsuit against the President, instead of continuing to waste the American people’s time and money.”
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer also chimed in:
And by pulling their own bill, the House GOP once again proves why the President must act on his own to solve problems
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) July 31, 2014
Before the bill was pulled, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) circulated a letter to colleagues bashing the anti-DACA bill as insufficient to rein in the president’s actions. He complained that although it would preclude new beneficiaries to the program and let existing ones’ legal status expire in time, it wouldn’t strip the temporary status granted to some half a million young people brought to the country illegally as children. He also lamented that it was a separate bill and not in the border supplemental.
“I urge you all to join me today in voting against the Border Supplemental as well as the alleged DACA fix and help prevent de facto amnesty to illegal immigrants,” Gosar wrote.
After House Republican leadership’s statement, many members began to leave town. House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) told reporters he was at the airport when his secretary called him and told him Republicans decided to convene a 3 p.m. meeting to see if there was a way forward. So he trotted back to the Capitol.
“There’s not consensus” on the border supplemental, he told reporters, saying he heard some Republicans had started to defect Thursday morning. He said it’s unclear if the bill in any form will come back up.
“I’m disappointed,” Rogers said.
Walking out of the GOP meeting, Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) said House members might stay in town until they pass a border bill.
“I don’t know. I think we’re going to stay until we pass the bill, as far as I can tell,” he said in response to a question from TPM. “A couple days, next week, whenever the votes are there.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said, “We’ll stay until we vote.”
This is a breaking story. It has been updated and will continue to be updated.