House Republicans passed two measures this week that purport to tackle Obama’s “executive overreach.” But if passed into law, the bills would dissolve current legislation on the Affordable Care Act, education laws, and a presidential initiative that grants temporary deportation reprieve and work authorization to some undocumented immigrants.
In a 233–181 vote Wednesday, House Republicans passed the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law Act of 2014 (ENFORCE Act), giving Congress the ability to bring civil lawsuits against the executive branch for failing to execute federal law, including making it difficult for immigration officials to exercise enforcement discretion under the presidential initiative known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. On Thursday afternoon, Republicans again voted through a companion bill, called the Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014, requiring the attorney general to report to Congress and to explain the constitutionality of all enforcement decisions made by federal agencies.
During floor debates, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) criticized the bills for being equivalent to a politically motivated “press release” against the President. “This is not serious legislation,” McGovern said. “It costs $24 million a week to run this place and we’re wasting taxpayers dollars. … Never mind that the President is using the same kind of executive authority that President Bush and other presidents used before him.”
Although neither bill will pass the Democrat-controlled Senate and will face a presidental veto, the passage of the bills shows just how far House Republicans have come since they released a document of immigration principles a month and a half ago that would “provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home.” The bills’ passage is just the latest development that proves House Republicans are less than serious about moving forward on immigration reform.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said in a statement Wednesday, “President Obama has refused to enforce those parts of our nation’s immigration laws that are not to his political liking.”
The nearly two million immigrants that the Obama administration has already deported would likely disagree with Goodlatte’s assessment that the President has flagrantly disregarded immigration enforcement. As the Pew Research Fact Tank blog noted, “the Obama Administration has deported more immigrants annually than the George W. Bush Administration.”
What’s more, Republicans tried to push then-Attorney General Janet Reno in 1999 to suspend “some deportations” that “were unfair and resulted in unjustifiable hardship … we must ask why the INS pursued removal in such cases when so many other more serious cases existed.” Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Zoe Lofgren (D-IL) presented a poster with the letter, with Gutierrez describing Smith’s letter as “DACA. He promulgated DACA.”