(TheBlaze/AP) — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) plans to spend part of Wednesday evening persuading a group of House republicans to oppose House Speaker John Boehner’s proposed immigration package set to hit the House floor on Thursday, according to a Washington Post report.
Citing “several House members” who plan to attend a 7 p.m. meeting at Cruz’s office, the Post reports that Cruz is seemingly acting as an informal whip, meddling in the House’s affairs in a bid to derail Boehner’s immigration bill. Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) and more than 12 other House Republicans reportedly plan to attend the meeting, which will be closed to the press.
Boehner’s House $659 million proposal makes it easier to deport young illegal immigrants and would also dispatch National Guard troops to the border. The measure would cost significantly less than the $3.7 billion President Barack Obama first requested.
Cruz has argued that Congress shouldn’t pass any bill that doesn’t fully repeal Obama’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to receive work permits.
In a statement on Tuesday, Cruz said the “only way to stop the border crisis is to stop Obama’s amnesty. It is disappointing the border security legislation unveiled today does not include language to end Obama’s amnesty. Congress cannot hope to solve this problem without addressing the fundamental cause of it.”
Meanwhile in the Senate, lawmakers voted 63-33 on Wednesday to advance a $3.5 billion emergency spending bill over an initial procedural hurdle. But with Republicans and a few Democrats opposed, there was little expectation that the legislation would ultimately prevail with only days left before Congress’ annual August recess.
Even if it did, the Senate bill is at odds with a competing measure in the House that has a smaller price tag and includes contentious policy changes the Senate bill ignores. That measure drew a veto threat from the White House on Wednesday.
Republicans called the Senate measure a blank check for President Barack Obama’s failed policies and demanded policy changes opposed by Democrats to send the migrants back home more quickly. The bill also includes hundreds of millions of dollars to fight western wildfires and $225 million to help Israeli self-defense, but lawmakers were making plans to deal with the money for Israel separately.
Still, Republicans and Democrats alike said the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American youths crossing illegally into South Texas demanded a response. Some Republicans voted in favor of moving forward Wednesday, saying they wanted to open debate on the measure in order to be able to offer amendments, though Democrats were expected to oppose such efforts.
“My constituents back home don’t understand why in the world we would leave without fixing this problem,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “If we don’t do anything to deal with the causes or deal with a remedy for this growing humanitarian crisis, it’s going to get worse.”
Cornyn was among 11 Republicans who voted to proceed with the bill. Two red-state Democrats in tough re-election fights – Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana – voted “no.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.