By Jack Torry THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
WASHINGTON — Following a blistering attack by House Speaker John Boehner on President Barack Obama, the House attempted yesterday to invalidate Obama’s executive orders to delay deportation of 5 million undocumented immigrants.
By a vote of 236-191, House Republicans approved a $40 billion measure that would finance the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the federal spending year that ends at the end of September.
But the bill, which needs Senate approval, includes one amendment that would invalidate Obama’s November executive order that would allow as many as 4 million people to acquire work permits. A second amendment would reverse Obama’s 2012 order preventing deportation of 600,000 immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents when they were children.
The Republican action is fraught with political danger, particularly because 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney performed so poorly among Latino voters.
And just a week after the terrorist shootings in Paris, the Republicans are on a course that could possibly lead to a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security next month.
In a conference call with reporters, Cecilia Munoz, a White House adviser on immigration affairs, warned that if “this legislation reaches the president’s desk, he will veto it,” adding, “There is no reason to tinker with the executive actions at all.”
Republicans also steered the House to approval of legislation to ease the landmark Dodd-Frank law, which aimed to rein in banks and Wall Street.
The Dodd-Frank changes, approved 271-154, also face an Obama veto threat. The new legislation would give U.S. banks two extra years to ensure that their holdings of certain complex and risky securities don’t put them out of compliance with a new banking rule.
Just before the floor vote for the Homeland Security bill, Boehner, R-West Chester, took the floor to denounce Obama’s executive orders as an “affront to the rule of the law and the Constitution itself.”
In sharp language, Boehner charged that Obama has “forgotten” what he learned when he studied constitutional law at Harvard and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.
“To think that the president of the United States actually studied constitutional law is one thing,” Boehner said. But reminding lawmakers that Obama “taught it as well,” Boehner said that the president’s “actions suggest he has forgotten what these words even mean. Enough is enough.”
Among area lawmakers, Republicans Pat Tiberi of Genoa Township, Steve Stivers of Upper Arlington, Bob Gibbs of Lakeville, Bill Johnson of Marietta and Jim Jordan of Urbana voted for the measure, while Democrat Joyce Beatty of Jefferson Township opposed it.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., warned that House Republicans were “endangering our security.”
Saying that the House bill would not pass the Senate, Reid charged that “tearing families apart does nothing to secure our borders, fix our broken immigration system or strengthen our economy.”
“This is not a game, and it is time for Republicans to take their responsibility to govern seriously instead of playing to the most extreme voices in their party,” Reid said.
Boehner has tried to frame the issue as more about presidential power than immigration. He said he appreciates “the efforts of those working to fix our broken immigration system, especially since I’m one of them,” but he said Obama has “ignored the Constitution and even his own past statements.”
Boehner pointed to an Obama immigration speech in November 2013 in which he said if he could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then “I would do so.”
“But we’re also a nation of laws,” Obama said in that speech. “That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws.
“And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done.”
Information from the Associated Press was included in this story. [email protected]