By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, January 14, the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Department of Homeland Security funding bill, H.R. 240, that would block President Barack H. Obama’s Executive Order concerning immigration which Republican lawmakers claim is unconstitutional. Alabama Republican Congress members Gary Palmer, Bradley Byrne, and Martha Roby all voted for the legislation and issued statements explaining their votes.
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) appeared on Fox News Channel’s “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson” to defend the House GOP plan from multiple Democratic attacks. Rep. Roby called the attacks by House Democrats “malicious” and said that she disagreed “100 percent” with the criticisms.
Rep. Roby told Gretchen, “We passed today a responsible Appropriations bill to fund Homeland Security. But, what we are not going to fund is what we believe to be unlawful action by the president to allow millions of illegal immigrants in this country to have amnesty.”
Replying to a statement from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) that plans to defund executive amnesty would not pass the Senate, Rep. Roby said, “I’m hopeful about what will come out of the Senate. Of course, we don’t know and I don’t think we should play the ‘what if’ game. But, Mr. Reid is no longer in a position to be making those threats. We won elections in November. We have a majority in the Senate and I look forward to seeing what Republicans in the Senate produce.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) also supported H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which included an amendment by Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) to “prevent any funds from whatever sources to be used to carry-out the Executive Actions announced on November 20, 2014 to grant deferred action to certain unlawful aliens.”
Rep. Byrne said in a written statement, “Last month, we made a promise to the American people that we would fight the Obama administration’s decision to give Executive Amnesty to many of those in this country illegally. Today, we made progress on fulfilling that promise.”
Rep. Byrne wrote, “President Obama has repeatedly acted outside his constitutional authority in an effort to legislate from the White House. Today’s vote shows that the House of Representatives is committed to righting the scales of power and restoring the Constitutional system of checks and balances.”
Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) said in a written statement, “On Wednesday I voted for five amendments to H.R. 240, the bill authorizing funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The amendments have been wrongly characterized as anti-immigrant.”
Congressman Palmer continued, “The five amendments were not about immigration. By using an Executive Order to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants President Obama created a constitutional crisis that every member of Congress is honor-bound to oppose. Speaker of the House John Boehner and the other Republican leadership team members made it abundantly clear that the five amendments that were added to the DHS appropriations bill were added with the sole intention of reversing President Obama’s unconstitutional usurpation of the legislative powers of Congress.”
Replying to White House claims that the House funding bill somehow threatens counter-terrorism funding, Rep Roby said on Fox News, “What happened in Paris last week is exactly why we needed to pass a responsible bill today to keep Americans safe, and for counter-terrorism. This bill does that. And when it reaches the president’s desk, he will have a choice to make about whether his unlawful executive amnesty is more important than keeping Americans safe, and I think that would be a grave mistake on the president’s part.”
U.S. Representative Byrne wrote, “This is tough legislation which completely eliminates all funds for implementation of the President’s illegal actions. It should be no surprise the legislation has the support of a number of influential leaders in the immigration debate, including Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.” “With the new Republican majority, I urge my colleagues in the Senate to bring this legislation up right away and act swiftly to rein in President Obama’s ill-conceived plan for executive amnesty.”
Representative Palmer said, “The oath each member takes is to uphold and defend the Constitution. There are no exemptions to that oath. We cannot decide that we will uphold it in all cases except when it doesn’t serve our political agenda. We cannot cite past incidences when other presidents or other Congresses violated the Constitution and claim those violations created a legal precedent that justifies more violations. And we can’t claim that a compelling humanitarian interest gives the Executive Branch or Congress justification to act unconstitutionally.”
Congressman Palmer continued, “Millions of people desire to come to the United States because our country is the freest, most prosperous nation in the world. We achieved that stature because our founding fathers gave us a republic based on a written constitution that divided our government into three branches with checks and balances for one reason — to limit the power of government and protect the liberty of the people. By allowing the Executive Branch to assume to itself the powers of the Congress or the powers of the Court puts in jeopardy the very document that has made the United States so desirable to the millions who seek to come here.”
Rep. Palmer wrote, “The genius of the Constitution is not just that it is a written document outlining our sacred rights, but that it provides for the separation of powers to ensure those rights are not abused. When one branch of government checks the power of another, those rights are more likely to be respected. History teaches us that when the separation of powers is violated, it has unintended consequences that end in ugly results, no matter what the intent.” There is no justification for any elected official to willfully violate the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. There are no loop holes. Every member of Congress swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. Every member of Congress who voted for the five amendments to H.R. 240 honored that commitment. I am proud to have been one of them.”
According to information provided by Rep. Byrne’s office, the bill also includes a number of funding increases designed to strengthen our nation’s border security agencies and programs. These include: increased funding for Customs and Border Protection, greater Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding covering detention programs, new funding for domestic and international investigations, and full funding of E-Verify, which is used to check the legal status of prospective employees.
Rep. Byrne said: “Any conversation on illegal immigration must start with border security. In order to truly stem the flow of illegal immigrants, we must use all available resources to ensure our border is truly secure. I am pleased this legislation increases funding for border security and other national security priorities.”
The legislation passed the House by a vote of 236 to 191.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. The bill faces steep challenges in the Senate where it is believed that the bill likely won’t have the votes to get passed a promised Democratic filibuster in its current form. Since the Department of Homeland Security is only funded until the end of February this could lead to a potential showdown with a defiant White House that to this point has shown little willingness to compromise with the Republican controlled Congress.