By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, July 31, according to original reporting by “Roll Call’s” Humberto Sanchez, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a $3.6 billion emergency supplemental spending package, most of which was designed to deal with the tens of thousands children illegally emigrating from Central America. Republicans used a budget point of order by Senate Budget Chairman Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama to kill the Senate bill on a 50-44 vote. By the Senate’s rules 60 votes are needed to advance the proposal and Senate Democrats only had 50.
The GOP opposed the Democrats proposal because they were blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) from Nevada from offering amendments. Senator Sessions has wanted to prohibit President Obama from issuing any new Executive orders giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Sessions has called the practice “administrative amnesty.” Republicans also wanted to change a 2008 trafficking law to expedite deportations of child migrants. The Obama administration is claiming that the 2008 bill means that any juvenile illegal alien has to have a hearing before he or she can be deported and then releases the juvenile into the custody of a family member or charitable organization and then schedules the hearing weeks or months from now.
The bill in its current form gives the President ~$2 billion for the border crisis and also includes $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system and $615 million for wildfire suppression. Sen. Reid sought unanimous consent to move the Israel funding on its own, but was blocked by Sen. Tom Coburn (R) from Oklahoma because it would add to the deficit. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R) from Texas objected to Reid’s requests to pass the wildfire funding and the wildfire and Israel funding together.
Sen. Sessions said on the floor of the Senate, “Our border is not secure; it is in crisis. Our communities are not safe; preventable crimes occur every day because our laws are not enforced. And our sovereignty is not protected; we have a President planning to issue a sweeping executive amnesty in violation of our laws and our constitutional separation of powers.”
Sen. Sessions continued, “My position has been, and remains, that Congress should not pass border legislation that does not foreclose the possibility of these unlawful executive orders. Congress has a duty to protect itself as an institution and to protect our constituents. Currently, the President has issued approximately half a million work permits to individuals unlawfully present in the country up to 30 years of age. Now the President wants to issue another 5-6 million work permits to illegal immigrants of any age—despite the clear prohibition in the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions said, “This at a time when millions of Americans are out of work. President Obama’s plan is a direct affront to every single unemployed American—particularly those in our poorest most vulnerable American communities. Who will speak for them? Who will give them a voice? Will this Congress? Will we hear their pleas?”
Sen. Sessions said,
“Let’s consider a bit more deeply for a moment what the President’s Executive action would do to enforcement in America. I have spoken many times with a great American by the name of Chris Crane. A former marine, he is also an ICE officer and President of the ICE Officers’ Council. He has explained how his officers are ordered not do their jobs—ordered not to enforce the law. They have even sued the Secretary of Homeland Secretary for blocking them from fulfilling their oaths. One of the things Mr. Crane explained is that the President’s previous executive amnesty—for the so-called DREAMers—basically halted enforcement for anyone who asserted protections under the new administration policy. So Mr. Crane would report that ICE officers would come into contact with individuals unlawfully present in the country—individuals they would encounter in prisons and jails—and be forced to release them simply because they assert DREAMer protections. Now, imagine then what will happen when the President expands his amnesty and work authorization program to cover millions of unlawful immigrants of all ages. Everyone ICE comes into contact with will assert protections, will claim to have failed an application, will say they are eligible for the new amnesty. What then? Will the FBI open investigations, check when they entered the country, who they entered with, where they are from? Of course not. ICE officers will again be ordered to stand down and no enforcement will occur. It will be the effective end of immigration enforcement in America—unless these plans are stopped.”
In the House, a $659 appropriations bill was yanked by the Republican leadership because it did not have the support of the GOP membership. According to original reporting by Emma Dumain at ‘Roll Call’
Republicans will regroup on the border funding bill. The House will hold off on leaving town for its five-week August recess until the Republican leadership finds the votes to pass legislation addressing the border crisis. There will be a meeting of the GOP Congress members at 9 a.m. to discuss new policy proposals to accompany the $659 million appropriations bill.
The leadership had planned to put a package on the floor on Thursday afternoon that would have allowed members to vote first on the border funding bill, then on legislation to prohibit President Obama from passing an executive amnesty. The planned White House expansion of a program which grants stays of deportations to young undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Those bills each would be sent to the Senate separately. Conservatives charged that the funding would pass the Senate and the prohibition of the expansion of the controversial DACA program would be dead on arrival in the Democrat controlled U.S. Senate. The conservatives want the prohibition of unilateral executive amnesty in the funding bill.
Dumain is reporting that Republican discussions will continue into Friday as to how to “tighten” the legislative language to appease the reluctant members of the rank and file. Conservatives also want the same wording in the executive amnesty bill that Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas included in his bill, which is supported by Senator Sessions.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R) from Huntsville said the new language “seemed to legalize the president issuing work permits to illegal aliens.” Those Republicans want the original Cruz version, or nothing. Rep. Brooks told ‘Roll Call’ that he and a number of other members were in talks about coming up with their own plan that could win the majority of House Republican votes. Congressman Brooks said, “The problem is, you’ve got some people who want a very secure border, and some other people who tend to be more pro-immigration and less secure borders,” Brooks said. “More amnesty, and you’ve got that natural conflict.”
Members leaving the 90-minute meeting Thursday afternoon said they felt leadership listened to them, and said they are hopeful their grievances would be taken into consideration so they could lend support to the effort.
One of the original hold-outs, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, said no matter what happens on Friday and in the days ahead, a message had been delivered “loud and clear” to Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, who in a matter of hours are set to officially become the new majority leader and majority whip.
Gosar suggested leadership had tried to “strong-arm” and disrespect lawmakers with strong opinions on immigration.
“When you have children who learn at that speed you take them from the head of the class to remedial,” Gosar told CQ Roll Call. “I hope that leadership is learning they could have avoided this by talking to people who had concerns about tightening the language. I think that message was delivered today loud and clear.”
Matt Fuller, Tamar Hallerman, Ellyn Ferguson, Emily Ethridge and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
Sessions Says Congress Must Fight Executive Amnesty: “This Cannot Stand. It Will Not Stand.”
“Congress, as an institution, must not support any border package that does not expressly prohibit the President’s executive amnesty and block funds for its implementation… There is currently no legislation pending for a vote in either Chamber—House or Senate—which passes this test. As a result, both the House and Senate packages should not be supported…[The President’s planned work permits for 5-6 million illegal workers come at] a time when millions of Americans are out of work. President Obama’s plan is a direct affront to every single unemployed American—particularly those in our poorest most vulnerable American communities. Who will speak for them? Who will give them a voice? Will this Congress? Will we hear their pleas?”
“Let’s put this in a bigger picture… The President’s planned work permits for illegal immigrations is in addition then, to this already huge flow of low-wage labor into the United States… Isn’t it time we did something for American workers?”
Sen. Sessions said, “We must end the lawlessness. We can end the lawlessness. Let me repeat: it can be done. But, to do so, we must first stop further damage. We must prevent the President’s massive executive amnesty from going forward. The public, once roused, will not be ignored. They will not let their representatives, in either party, acquiesce to this lawless scheme. That is why have said that Congress, as an institution, must not support any border package that does not expressly prohibit the President’s executive amnesty and block funds for its implementation. There is currently no legislation pending for a vote in either Chamber—House or Senate—which passes this test. As a result, both the House and Senate packages should not be supported. Congress should not adjourn until it has firmly stood against the President’s unconstitutional and dangerous action. The American people are asking us for help, pleading with us for help, and we must answer that call. We must fight for the lawful and just system of immigration that we can proud of.”
Sen. Sessions said, “Let’s put this in a bigger picture. Wages are down. Labor force participation is at its lowest level in almost four decades. Since 2000, the federal government has lawfully issued nearly 30 million immigrant and foreign worker visas.”
“Almost 30 million visas to legally work or permanently reside in the United States. During this time, the number of working-age Americans with jobs declined—on net, fewer U.S.-born workers 16-65 had jobs in 2014 than in the year 2000. The President’s planned work permits for illegal immigrations is in addition then, to this already huge flow of low-wage labor into the United States. This flow of low-wage labor also pushes down wages for our recent immigrants looking to rise into the middle class. Isn’t it time we did something for American workers? Isn’t it time, after forty years of lawless borders and open immigration, we looked out for them?”
Sen. Jeff Sessions is a Senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.