House Republicans on Wednesday rejected two proposals from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) to shift funds in the Department of Defense spending bill so that $41 million can be used to hire the National Guard to protect the southern U.S. border.
Gohmert offered his plan as a way to address the rapid inflow of immigrants, including many children who have been sent by relatives. Officials estimate as many as 60,000 children may try to cross the border this year, and many say the situation has evolved into a humanitarian crisis.
Several Republicans have said the spike in numbers has forced many border agents to attend to the needs of these children, further weakening border enforcement.
"Right now as I speak, there are thousands of unaccompanied minors… and our border patrol is being overwhelmed," Gohmert said on the House floor.
"Why is it a crisis? Because people in the administration are refusing… to do the job and faithfully execute the laws of this nation," he said. "They have done a terrible job, and it's a great injustice to all those children who have been sent by aunts and uncles, by parents and others."
Gohmert's first amendment would have taken $41.4 million from the Defense Department's operations budget, and moved it to National Guard Personnel.
However, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) raised a point of order against the proposal that said the plan would create more spending than allowed. Gohmert argued that his proposal would not lead to a net increase in spending, because money is just being shifted around, but the presiding officer ruled it out of order regardless.
Gohmert then tried again with a bill that moved $57 million out of the Defense Department account, in an effort to ensure no new net spending would occur. But Republicans struck down this proposal as well.
When Gohmert pressed for a parliamentary explanation, the Republican presiding officer, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) explained, "The chair bases his ruling on the fact that the amendment increases budget outlay rates."
That left Gohmert unsatisfied, as most parliamentary answers do, and gave him no option other than to complain about the "fuzzy math" used by the Congressional Budget Office to score the cost of legislation.
But the vote doesn't necessarily mean the National Guard can't be used somehow — instead, it more likely reflects opposition to the idea of using defense money for that purpose.