As a Snowmageddon 2015 barrels down on the East Coast, Republican House leaders are using the weather to their advantage.
This week, the House of Representatives was scheduled to bring the “Secure our Borders First Act” bill for a vote on the floor. But, party dissension, some wrangled by anti-reform hardliner, and new chair of the Senate subcommittee on immigration, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), made Republican leadership more than a little uncomfortable that they might not have the votes they need to pass the bill. And now, according to Chad Pergram of Fox News, the bill’s vote in front of the full House has been suspended indefinitely.
So what’s the problem?
Members of the Republican caucus don’t think the bill goes far enough, or even addresses the right issues to stop new undocumented immigrants. Although the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), purports that this will “be the most significant and toughest border security bill ever set before Congress,” by mandating additional fencing, technology and strict time-limits (with penalties if not met) to secure “operation control” of the border, Sen. Sessions would rather the House focus on reversing the President’s executive action issued in December and the deferred action for children program that began in 2012.
For their part Democrats have already come out against the bill. Although many Democrats supported a version of this bill that was introduced in the 113th Congress (in fact in passed out of the Homeland Security Committee with unanimous support from both parties), they say the changes to the bill are too extreme to support. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson chastised Republican leaders for even offering the bill for a vote: “[This legislation is] not a serious effort at legislating border security – and its authors know it.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), ranking Democratic member of the House Homeland Security Committee, commented, “After working across the aisle on border security legislation just last year, it is extremely unfortunate that Chairman McCaul has quickly abandoned it to placate the most extreme factions of the Republican Conference.”
Anu Joshi is the Campaign Manager at the Center for New Community.