House Republican leadership abruptly postponed and then ultimately pulled a vote on its plan to deal with the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, after a conservative revolt left leadership short of the votes needed to pass the bill.
Soon after House leaders pulled the bill, however, a 3 p.m. ET Republican conference meeting was scheduled in an apparent attempt to revive the bill. Members were advised that additional votes were still possible.
The original pulling of the bill served as a remarkable setback for House Speaker John Boehner and the incoming House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who had whipped support for the border bill.
This week, House conservatives revolted against the Republican-led border plan, which provides about $US659 million in emergency spending for the border crisis through the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
The Republican dissent was led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the conservative freshman firebrand who has miffed House leadership before by meddling in the House’s affairs (most notably, last year, ahead of the government shutdown).
Cruz has led a wing of conservatives who say any border legislation should include a provision to stop the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Many of the immigrants who have been part of the recent influx coming over the border have been unaccompanied minors, but they are not eligible for the DACA program.
The conservative ire at the plan led Republican leaders to schedule two votes — one on the border bill and another on legislation that would bar President Barack Obama from delaying the deportation of young, undocumented immigrants. However, shortly after announcing the dual votes, the GOP leadership announced they were both cancelled. This indicates the conservative wing was not satisfied with the legislation to speed the deportation of young immigrants being voted on separately.
In a statement announcing the cancellation of the border bill vote vote, House GOP leaders blamed Obama for not enforcing current laws as a reason for the concern among House Republicans.
“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,” the GOP leaders — Boehner, Scalise, incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers — said in a joint statement.
The four leaders also argued Obama can move forward and improve the situation on the border “without congressional action.”
“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,” they said. “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.”
Reacting to that statement, White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted the House GOP conference “once again proves why the President must act on his own to solve problems.” And a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Reid was “glad Republicans have come around.”
“Senator Reid agrees with House Republican leaders’ statement that President Obama has the authority to take steps on immigration reform on his own,” the Reid spokesman said. “He’s glad Republicans have come around and hopes this means they will drop their frivolous lawsuit against the President instead of continuing to waste the American people’s time and money.”
This post has been updated. Latest update at 3:47 p.m. ET.
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