GOP Border bill fiasco

The bill to fund border operations and deal with the flood of illegal alien children is in trouble. So is newly minted House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. And so is Speaker of the House Joihn Boehner, who was forced to pull the border funding bill from the House floor without a vote when it became clear that conservatives were balking.

It was an embarrassing debacle for the House leadership who thought they had a deal in place that would get conservatives to sign on. The agreement called for a separate vote on ending the DACA program - the executive order President Obama issued in July, 2012 that gave some DREAMers the right to apply for a green card and deferred deportation.

The conservatives weren't buying it, which led to Boehner pulling the bill in mid-afternoon.


The challenges facing the House bill were evident earlier Thursday, when hard-right conservatives indicated that they still weren’t appeased by the last-minute offer of a vote on the immigration deferral program — known as DACA — in exchange for moving forward on the border funding bill.

This bloc demanded tougher border-security and immigration provisions in the supplemental package while also pressing for the language rolling back DACA to be included in the funding bill.

“I don’t like it,” Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said of the two-step strategy Thursday morning. “We need to get rid of DACA, and the bill itself is bad.”

(Also on POLITICO: Lerner email: Some in GOP 'crazies')

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), another conservative, had already started to circulate a Dear Colleague letter warning Republicans against the stand-alone vote on DACA.

More than 57,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, have been apprehended at the southern border since October — exhausting government resources and leading federal agencies to warn that they will begin running out of money in August to deal with the crisis.

Beyond providing funds for the border, the House bill would have revised a 2008 anti-trafficking law that has, in practice, made it more difficult to deport children from countries other than Mexico or Canada. The legislation also called for bolstering National Guard presence on the border.

The White House blasted the House’s plan on Thursday after leaders tacked on the DACA vote. The deferral program was announced by President Barack Obama in June 2012 in the middle of his reelection bid. More than 550,000 young undocumented immigrants who grew up in the United States have been protected from deportation and gotten work permits under the program.

But Republicans have blamed DACA for contributing to the current crisis on the border , arguing that it sends a message to children from abroad that they, too, could be allowed to stay here lawfully.

Ironically, Harry Reid is having trouble with the border funding bill in the well. There is a huge difference between the House and Senate bills, especially in funding levels. The Senate bill authorizes $2.7 billion while the House version would spend $659 million. The House bill would also change the 2008 law that treats illegal kids from Central America differently than those from Mexico.

Some immigration departments warn that they will run out of money in August without further appropriations. The crush of children at the border has exhausted resources and without the extra cash, something is going to have to give - border security, caring for the illegal children, and transporting illegals to detention centers, or back home,  are among the programs that could be affected.

Republicans realize this and without even a vote on the border funding bill, they will leave themselves wide open to Democratic charges of incompetence (not to mention being cruel and unfeeling toward the border jumping illegal kids).  The Democrat's charges may not resonate, given the public's support for the conservative position on the border crisis.

Once again, John Boehner is showing why he simply isn't up to the job as speaker.