by Phil Roe, 1st Congressional District Tennessee - Last week, the House passed a spending bill that funds the government—except for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—through next September. DHS, the agency in charge of implementing the president’s “executive amnesty,” is only funded through February, setting up a major battle early in the next Congress. While the spending bill was far from a perfect package, I voted for it because two critical things: 1) it requires Congress to pass new legislation that funds DHS—which is implementing this immigration plan—when Congress has a Republican Senate and a strengthened Republican majority in the House, and 2) it continues House Republicans’ effort to keep discretionary spending at pre-Obama Administration levels. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain to you why I felt this vote was necessary and clear up some misconceptions about the measure.
Since the president’s November announcement, I’ve heard from thousands of Tennesseans who are concerned about his unilateral, unconstitutional executive action to allow five million illegal immigrants to remain legally in this country. I could not in good conscience support legislation that would implement this policy, but this spending package does not do that. Instead, it only funds operations for the Department of Homeland Security until the end of February, which will allow the new Republican-led Congress to act on overturning this executive action. Within the first two weeks of the next Congress beginning in January, the House of Representatives will act on legislation to defund “executive amnesty”.
It is painfully clear the president has no intention of truly working with Congress, but the election proved that American voters want change in Washington. By electing a Republican Senate, voters have empowered Congress to push back against President Obama’s policies. With this majority, the president will have no choice but to listen to Congress on the issues – including immigration.
This bill does not provide a blank check for the administration to push executive amnesty as some have claimed, and since outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – who urged the President to “go big – big as he can” on immigration – would not allow a vote on the president’s plan, the best solution was to consider this issue when Majority Leader-Elect Mitch McConnell will not only bring it up, but also actively support a vote on stopping this executive action.
President Obama’s number one talking point to distract the media and voters from serious issues in this country is that Republicans are only interested in shutting down the government. By passing this bill, we’ve taken that talking point out of his arsenal and focused the fight early next year solely on his this executive action. I can promise you this: within the first couple weeks of the 114th Congress we WILL vote to defund the president’s actions. With a Republican-led Senate, we can actually get this bill to the president’s desk. He can veto it if he chooses, but the money for DHS will run out. Unless he wants to be responsible for single-handedly shutting down this part of the federal government, he’ll have to work with Congress to reverse his plan.
You might also be pleased to know that I have signed on to a legal brief challenging the constitutionality of the president’s actions on immigration in the Supreme Court. I’m sick of this administration ignoring Congress, and I am proud to take this fight to the court. Please rest assured I will continue fighting the president both legislatively and legally. I won’t allow him to get away with trampling our Constitution any longer, and I look forward to continuing this fight in the next Congress.