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December 19, 2014

Posts in "Immigration"

December 11, 2014

After Hours of Uncertainty, House Passes ‘Cromnibus’ (Updated)

Boehner 17 011614 1 445x295 After Hours of Uncertainty, House Passes Cromnibus (Updated)

Boehner needed help getting the bill over the finish line. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 

Updated 10:19 p.m. | The House narrowly advanced a trillion-dollar spending bill Thursday night to fund nearly all federal operations through the end of the fiscal year.

The measure passed 219-206 and now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers have just a few hours to avert a government shutdown; funding runs out at 11:59 p.m.

Sixty-seven Republicans joined 139 Democrats voting “no,” a volume of opposition ultimately not great enough to stymie the bill that was, by all accounts, controversial — even for those who voted “yes.” Full story

December 9, 2014

Lawmakers Release Massive ‘Cromnibus’ 2 Days Ahead of Shutdown

With roughly 51 hours left before the government runs out of cash, lawmakers released the text Tuesday night of a massive 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion bill to keep federal agencies running past Dec. 11.

The spending package, a carefully negotiated piece of legislation between the Republican House and Democratic Senate, would fund the vast majority of government operations through September with the notable exception of the Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans, frustrated by President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, want to tighten the purse strings on the DHS, which the bill funds only to Feb. 27. DHS is the agency charged with carrying out much of the president’s immigration orders. Full story

December 5, 2014

Pelosi Warns GOP: Tread Carefully With ‘Cromnibus’ (Video)

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Pelosi warns GOP on spending bill riders. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is still keeping her powder dry when it comes to staking out a position on the House GOP’s fiscal 2015 spending bill, due to be revealed on Monday.

The California Democrat said no policy riders currently on the negotiating table were “deal breakers” on their own.

“Let’s look at the full package,” she said.

But the riders currently being discussed, she said, were cause for concern among members of her caucus.

If she made one thing clear at her weekly press conference on Friday, it was this: If Republicans want and need Democrats’ help in shoring up the votes on the so-called “cromnibus” to avert a government shutdown on Dec. 11, the GOP is going to have to make some compromises.

“We have extended the hand of friendship once again to say, ‘Let us help,’” Pelosi said of Democrats’ outreach to Republican leaders. ”We haven’t heard back. We haven’t seen the bill. But there are some very destructive riders in it that would be unacceptable to us and unacceptable to the American people.” Full story

December 2, 2014

Labrador: Shutdown Didn’t Hurt GOP, Why Take It Off Table?

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Labrador, center, thinks a government shutdown can be a tool to block Obama’s immigration action. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador has a message for Republican leadership as they decide how to respond to the president’s executive action on immigration and funding the government beyond Dec. 11: Keep a government shutdown as an option.

“I don’t think anything is off the table,” Labrador told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday. “I don’t think anybody is thinking about a shutdown, but, in negotiations, you never take anything off the table. That’s the first rule of negotiating, and apparently it’s not one that’s been learned in Washington, D.C.”

Full story

Jeh Johnson: Obama’s Plan Is ‘Simple Common Sense’ (Video)

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defended President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration before skeptical Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

Johnson, who has become the administration’s point person on immigration, told the House Homeland Security Committee that the president’s order to stay the deportations of millions of illegal immigrants is “simple common sense.”

“The reality is that, given our limited resources, these people are not priorities for removal. It’s time we acknowledge that and encourage them to be held accountable,” Johnson said. Full story

November 25, 2014

Don’t Count on Democrats to Help Pass GOP ‘Cromnibus,’ Says Pelosi

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Pelosi says Democrats won’t support the “Cromnibus.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders and incoming Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia are floating a plan to fund immigration-related activities separately from an all-encompassing government spending bill — and for a shorter length of time.

It’s a plan still very much in flux. However, if the Republicans want to go through with it, they had better have enough of their own members ready and able to vote “yes,” because Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has it made it clear she won’t be offering assistance from her side of the aisle.

On Tuesday afternoon, the California Democrat slammed the emerging gambit known as a “Cromnibus” — part short-term continuing resolution, or CR, and part long-term omnibus — saying it would be tantamount to a “partial” government shutdown.

“House Democrats have fought against Republican attempts to shut down the government,” the California Democrat said in a written statement. “Now, House Republicans are seeking to disguise their efforts, threatening our national security in order to undermine the President’s clear legal authority. We will not be enablers to a Republican Government Shutdown, partial or otherwise.” Full story

The Anti-Cantor: Dave Brat on Bringing Rationality to Washington

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Brat raises his right hand as his wife Laura looks on during the ceremonial swearing-in Nov. 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s 7:49 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21 — the first day of Congress’ Thanksgiving recess — and Dave Brat is 11 minutes early.

The man who unseated former Majority Leader Eric Cantor is meeting me at a Starbucks in Navy Yard before driving down to the Richmond suburbs for his first constituent town hall as a congressman. It’s part of a pledge he made to visit all nine counties in his district every month, and Brat has every intention of keeping his word.

He genuinely doesn’t seem to know exactly why or how he beat Cantor — “There’s no perfect interpretation on this, right?” — and he seems less interested in changing Washington than he is in making sure Washington doesn’t change him.

He orders a chocolate croissant, a Venti mocha latte for his campaign manager-turned-senior-adviser who’s also in attendance, and a Venti half-and-half mocha latte for himself. “Extra hot,” he tells the barista. Apparently, Dave Brat knows something about lattes we didn’t. He may be new to Congress, but he’s not new to Starbucks.

He pays $9.68 for the order, sits down in the quietest corner we can find, and begins telling — between bites of pastry — his life story.

“After the primary, when I got all the attention, people said, ‘Who’s Dave Brat?’ All these stories,” he says. “And so then I went around to all these business leaders and said, ‘Hey, I got a thing called a biography!’ You know, please check it out. The press, you know, they want to pigeonhole ya.”

Brat, 50, explains that he grew up in Alma, Mich.; went to high school in Minneapolis; graduated from Hope College; and then worked for the Arthur Andersen accounting firm in Detroit and Chicago before going to Princeton Seminary. “I was going to teach systematic theology, be a professor,” he says.

He speaks in the gravel-voiced tones of western Michigan, and in his frameless glasses, with his hair slicked back, he walks the line of looking like the proverbial Washington wonk and Congress’ version of Gordon Gekko.

But despite the outsider image cultivated in his campaign, Brat is no stranger to D.C. During his time at Princeton, he did a semester in Washington at Wesley Seminary and realized just how much economic policy drove “everything up here.”

He shifted his focus, received a doctorate in economics from American University, and then worked a few years in Washington — first at the World Bank and then for the Army before he took a teaching job 90 miles south at Randolph-Macon College.

He spent 19 years at the school, eventually becoming the college’s Economics Department chairman before deciding to use his experience in local politics to challenge Cantor. (Brat had previously served on a number of state advisory boards and had unsuccessfully run for a Virginia House seat.)

His congressional campaign is now the stuff of political legend. Cantor outspent him nearly 40 to 1, and yet Brat emerged on June 10 as the winner of the GOP primary by 12 points. It was the first time a sitting majority leader had lost in a primary since the position was created in 1899.

He went on to beat Democrat Jack Trammell in the general election by 24 points.

Now that he’s sworn in, Brat is treated like a mini-celebrity at the Capitol. Members of Congress flock to him on the House floor to introduce themselves. Reporters swarm him in the halls to give him their cards. And constituents flood email him with messages that say, “Keep being Dave.”

“There’s been outpouring, yeah,” Brat says, almost surprised to hear that not all members of Congress are greeted with a such hoopla.

“I don’t know what’s normal,” he says. “Everybody’s been totally gracious.”

When asked who specifically has tried to befriend him, he mentions Bill Huizenga — the Republican who represents a part of Michigan where Brat still has family — and conservative MIT-graduate Thomas Massie of Kentucky. He also enumerates fellow GOP members of the Virginia delegation Reps. Robert W. Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith and J. Randy Forbes.

Even GOP leadership has been nice to him. “Boehner’s got just a tremendous personality,” he says.

Asked what it’s like to be “the-guy-who-knocked-off-Cantor,” Brat says he doesn’t view it that way — and he wants to look forward, not backwards. “That’s all in the rearview mirror,” he says.

While immigration was seen as the central issue in Brat’s campaign, and thus the key reason he beat Cantor, Brat thinks his success was more about fiscal issues, actually.

“I think that was the central message, that the economics is broken,” he says. “And then immigration also fits in there, right? So when your labor markets are already broken, it seems to me the answer isn’t to import, you know, 10 million new people.”

On the morning after President Barack Obama’s immigration announcement, Brat calls the executive action “the height of cynicism.” But he stops short of calling it unconstitutional. When asked about impeachment, Brat says he’ll go through the executive order in “slow motion” with “the smartest lawyers in the room and navigate that.

“And then, based on my principles, nobody gets to violate the Constitution,” he says. “If, in fact, anyone has violated the Constitution, yeah, then we have serious, serious issues to deal with.”

And that’s how Dave Brat wants to deal with issues: slowly, methodically, like a rational economist.

According to Brat, the press made fun of him for doing 20-minute stump speeches entirely on economic theory. “They’d say ‘Brat’s going off on his lectures, and da da da da da, and make fun of the things. But the people liked it!”

And he says the voters saw his honesty, his “economic homilies,” and they recognized that the issues he was talking about were the issues he was genuinely most concerned about — and that’s what worked for him.

“I didn’t pick ‘em because they were political winners,” he says.

“I don’t think they want red meat, you know, cage rattlin’, that kind of thing,” Brat says. “They just want rational people to go up and say, ‘Hey, I’m an economist. Here’s exactly what this does. There’s better ways to do it.’”

And he married that economic message with an ethical one.

“My whole life has been putting economics and ethics together,” he says. “And I made it very clear: Ethics, in a nutshell, is where you put the rules down ahead of time.”

Brat made three campaign pledges: To meet with constituents from every county every month; to limit himself to 12 years in Congress; and to put in a “fair” or flat tax.

He knows he can’t really promise that sort of tax overhaul — “I’m not a utopian,” Brat, ever the academic, says — but he does promise he’ll work toward moving the tax needle in that direction.

And he hopes the voters will recognize that he’s advancing the conversation. But if voters are such rational actors, was it a rational decision for his district to throw out someone with as much political clout as Eric Cantor?

Brat pauses, considering the question for five seconds.

“I mean, obviously, I think the answer is yes, because I’m running on Ph.D.-level economic rationality,” he says. “That was the premise of my entire campaign.”

November 24, 2014

Democrats Praise Obama for Immigration Action, but Wanted More

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Fasting immigration reform activists in front of the White House listen to President Barack Obama’s speech on his executive action on immigration policies Nov. 20. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

While Republicans in Congress aren’t holding back on their criticism of President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, some Democrats are trying to navigate a more difficult position: Supporting the president’s action while also arguing he could have gone further.

Some of the strongest congressional proponents of an immigration overhaul — Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Sen. Robert J. Menendez, D-N.J. — held a conference call Monday to discuss the president’s action. And while all three were effusive in their praise, it was also clear they believe Obama could have put forward a more ambitious executive order.

“We made the argument that he could go further,” Gutierrez said on the conference call. “We lost that argument.” Full story

November 21, 2014

Boehner: ‘House Will Act’ in Response to Obama’s Immigration Orders (Video)

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Immigration activists gathered at the White House on Thursday in the wake of Obama’s announcement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner said “the House will, in fact, act” to respond to President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration executive orders — but the Ohio Republican offered no details on the type, scale and scope of such action Friday morning.

In a 4-minute news conference outside his office, Boehner said the nation’s immigration system is “broken,” and “the American people expect us to work together to fix it.

“And we ought to do it in a Democratic process,” he continued, “moving bills through the people’s House, through the Senate and to the president’s desk.”

But Boehner also accused Obama of trying to “deliberately sabotage” the prospects for congressional action by issuing his executive orders and “making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do.”

Boehner said, “I warned the president over and over again.” Full story

November 20, 2014

GOP Still Fuzzy on Strategy to Block Obama’s Immigration Move

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Defunding Obama won’t work, said Rogers.  (CQ Roll Call File Photo/Bill Clark)

Hours before President Barack Obama finally presses the “go” button on executive actions to change the nation’s immigration laws, House Republicans were not any closer to coalescing around a strategy to fight back.

House GOP leaders have made it clear they want to pursue some legislative response to block Obama’s orders, which Democrats say they should have expected after stonewalling consideration in the 113th congress of Senate-passed immigration overhaul legislation.

“All options are on the table,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Boehner and his allies haven’t, however, figured out how to pacify a rank-and-file that would like to tie the president’s hands by attaching some kind of defunding language to a must-pass piece of legislation. Full story

Pelosi Praises Republican Presidents of Yore on Immigration (Video)

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Pelosi praised previous Republican presidents on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nancy Pelosi, defending Barack Obama, praised Republican presidents who historically took unilateral action on immigration — with the minority leader even drawing parallels between Obama’s proposed executive order and Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

“Does the public know that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?” Pelosi asked during a news conference Thursday. “People have to understand how presidents have made change in our country.”

The California Democrat cited the history of U.S. presidents making significant changes without going through Congress, and she brought up the pattern of Republican presidents in the past 50 years exerting their executive authority to act on immigration.

Asked whether Republicans had a case that what the president was proposing was unconstitutional, Pelosi said Obama’s action was “absolutely, positively” not outside his constitutional bounds. Full story

November 14, 2014

Gutiérrez: There Are ’40, 50, 60′ GOP Votes in House for Immigration

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Gutierrez  wants GOP leadership to allow a House vote on an immigration bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, the Illinois Democrat who has been at the forefront of efforts to overhaul immigration in Congress, said Friday there are enough votes in the House Republican caucus now to pass a bipartisan bill.

“There are 40, 50, 60 … Republicans” who will join Democrats to pass a bill, Gutiérrez said in an appearance on MSNBC. The congressman and other Democrats, frustrated with lack of action from GOP leaders, are urging on President Barack Obama, who has indicated he will take unilateral action on immigration perhaps as early as next week.

“The problem is they won’t give us a vote on all of the wonderful work. I don’t want to mention the names of my Republican colleagues that I worked with but you know who they are,” the Illinois Democrat told MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart, whose brother is a Republican congressman from Miami. “There are dozens of them.”

Diaz-Balart’s brother, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., told CQ Roll Call earlier this year that he was close to having enough Republican votes to pass a bipartisan immigration overhaul in the House that would balance GOP demands for border security with Democratic calls for legal status for the undocumented.

But Republicans backed off the issue this summer after an unprecedented surge of Central-American children and women crossing illegally into Texas and the primary loss of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who previously had indicated some support for an overhaul.

Related:

GOP: Obama’s Immigration Action Will Cripple 2016 Democrats

Obama Hasn’t Decided When to Act on Immigration 

Ted Cruz Rallies House Conservatives to End ‘Obama’s Amnesty’

White House Excoriates GOP Deportation Demands

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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November 13, 2014

Boehner Will Fight ‘Tooth and Nail’ Against Obama’s Executive Amnesty, Doesn’t Rule Out Shutdown (Updated) (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:58 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner said Republicans will fight “tooth and nail” against President Barack Obama’s plans to act on immigration by himself, and didn’t rule out a government shutdown.

“We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path,” the Ohio Republican said at a press conference introducing the new GOP leadership team. “This is the wrong way to govern. This is exactly what the American people said on Election Day they didn’t want. And so, all the options are on the table.”

Boehner is facing pressure from conservatives to pre-emptively defund any amnesty, but that could lead to a shutdown fight.

“We’re going to have conversations with our members and when we have a decision, we’ll let you know. … Our goal here is to stop the president from violating his oath of office and violating the Constitution. It’s not to shut down the government.”

Full story

As Obama Weighs Executive Action on Immigration, Is Government Shutdown Possible? (Video)

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Rogers, left, said a government shutdown is off the table. But some Republicans disagree. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While House Republicans consider how to fund the government beyond December and how to stop President Barack Obama’s expected executive action on immigration, there are two words that have suddenly, unexpectedly re-entered the GOP lexicon: government shutdown.

Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon has penned a letter, with more than 50 Republican co-signers, to House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky and ranking Democrat Nita M. Lowey of New York asking them to include a rider on a bill to fund the government — either an omnibus or another continuing resolution — that would block funds for the purpose of implementing any executive action on immigration. Full story

Republicans Move to Ban Funding for Obama’s Immigration Action

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Salmon and other GOP lawmakers want to ban funding for executive action on immigration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A movement is growing among rank-and-file House Republicans to explicitly ban funding for White House executive actions on immigration.

Just one day after the chamber returned from a seven-week recess, more than 50 GOP lawmakers have signed on to a letter asking House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking member, to include a rider on the upcoming government funding bill that would essentially block implementation of the executive actions that could come as early as next week.

Specifically, the letter calls for banning funding for enacting “current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits and green cards outside the scope prescribed by Congress.”

In the letter, lawmakers led by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., call for including the language in all relevant appropriations legislation for fiscal 2015. Full story

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