Federal Relations

January 15, 2015

House Passes DHS Appropriations and Raises Immigration Stakes

The House adjourned yesterday for the annual Republican retreat. But before they left, the House took steps to block major provisions of the president’s immigration policy announced in November of 2014. As an amendment to legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY15, the House passed a series of amendments effectively blocking Obama’s executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The underlying DHS funding bill passed by a vote of 236-191. The House also voted on a series of amendments meant to roll back Obama’s executive actions on immigration, including a controversial measure by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that would kill the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That amendment narrowly passed by a vote of 218-209.

At the conclusion of the 113th Congress, the House and Senate passed all FY15 appropriations bills but for the FY15 DHS appropriations bill in an effort to neutralize the President’s Executive Order. The FY15 DHS appropriations were put on a continuing resolution until February 28, 2015. The decision to not fully fund DHS is due in large part to the House attempted to respond in 2014, but the effort was not taken up by the Senate.

Earlier in the week, the White House had threatened to veto any legislation which negated his immigration policy, but the White House seems open to including some symbolic GOP immigration measure – although it’s unclear just how much they are willing to give.

Without new funding for the DHS, agencies such as FEMA would be prevented from distributing emergency grants to state and local governments in need in the case of a local, regional, or national disaster.

The package as passed by the House is unlikely to be taken up by the now Republican-controlled Senate. It is highly unlikely that the bill will get the 60 votes needed for cloture since the Republicans do not have a cloture-proof majority. The Senate Republicans are currently working on alternatives.

The Office of Federal Relations will continue to track this issue as it evolves.