First bill to defund immigration executive actions introduced in House

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby introduced a bill on the first day of the congressional session that would prevent the Department of Homeland Security from spending any funds to implement the president's executive orders on immigration.

Washington Examiner:

The lawmaker is Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, who on Tuesday, the first day of the new session of Congress, introduced a bill called the "Prevention of Executive Amnesty Act of 2015."

It's a short, simple measure — just three pages. It is intended to apply to the coming appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security, which Congress funded only until the end of February in anticipation of a move to stop the Obama immigration edict.

Roby's bill is essentially a "none of the funds" clause, that is, it forbids the executive branch from spending money for a particular purpose. Instead of defunding the Department of Homeland Security as a whole, or any office within the department, the bill specifies that none of the funds available to DHS may be used to enforce two recent directives. The first is a November 20, 2014 memo from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson outlining new policies for the "apprehension, detention, and removal of undocumented immigrants." The second is a pair of presidential memos issued November 21, 2014, "Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees" and "Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century."

Roby's bill would prohibit the expenditure of any money — no matter whether from appropriated funds, fees, or anywhere else — to enact the policy changes outlined in the administration directives. "It's very straightforward," Roby said in an interview Tuesday. "It lays out specifically that no funds will be used for these things."

Roby explained that she supported the strategy last month in which Congress funded all of the government on a long-term basis except DHS. "We did that so that we could have this fight on the president's overreach," she said. "I think that this prohibition language is the best way to do that."

Congress uses such language all the time. For example, the spending bill passed in December contained more than 450 "none of the funds" prohibitions. Lawmakers have passed thousands of such prohibitions over the years.

Can it really be that simple? In this case, it's possible. There is no specific program or line item in the budget to implement the executive orders. The implementation will take place in the normal course of business conducted by the department using resources and personnel already in place.

But executive departments have dealt with these kinds of "none of the funds" amendments in the past and managed to carry out the will of Congress with a few adjustments. In this case, DHS is not willing to make those adjustments so expect pushback in the form of crying poverty to implement other programs.

The leadership has guaranteed a vote to defund the executive orders. Whether the defunding will be effective is the real question.

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby introduced a bill on the first day of the congressional session that would prevent the Department of Homeland Security from spending any funds to implement the president's executive orders on immigration.

Washington Examiner:

The lawmaker is Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, who on Tuesday, the first day of the new session of Congress, introduced a bill called the "Prevention of Executive Amnesty Act of 2015."

It's a short, simple measure — just three pages. It is intended to apply to the coming appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security, which Congress funded only until the end of February in anticipation of a move to stop the Obama immigration edict.

Roby's bill is essentially a "none of the funds" clause, that is, it forbids the executive branch from spending money for a particular purpose. Instead of defunding the Department of Homeland Security as a whole, or any office within the department, the bill specifies that none of the funds available to DHS may be used to enforce two recent directives. The first is a November 20, 2014 memo from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson outlining new policies for the "apprehension, detention, and removal of undocumented immigrants." The second is a pair of presidential memos issued November 21, 2014, "Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees" and "Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century."

Roby's bill would prohibit the expenditure of any money — no matter whether from appropriated funds, fees, or anywhere else — to enact the policy changes outlined in the administration directives. "It's very straightforward," Roby said in an interview Tuesday. "It lays out specifically that no funds will be used for these things."

Roby explained that she supported the strategy last month in which Congress funded all of the government on a long-term basis except DHS. "We did that so that we could have this fight on the president's overreach," she said. "I think that this prohibition language is the best way to do that."

Congress uses such language all the time. For example, the spending bill passed in December contained more than 450 "none of the funds" prohibitions. Lawmakers have passed thousands of such prohibitions over the years.

Can it really be that simple? In this case, it's possible. There is no specific program or line item in the budget to implement the executive orders. The implementation will take place in the normal course of business conducted by the department using resources and personnel already in place.

But executive departments have dealt with these kinds of "none of the funds" amendments in the past and managed to carry out the will of Congress with a few adjustments. In this case, DHS is not willing to make those adjustments so expect pushback in the form of crying poverty to implement other programs.

The leadership has guaranteed a vote to defund the executive orders. Whether the defunding will be effective is the real question.