The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee indicated opposition to President Barack Obama's request for $3.7 billion in new border funding, and said more money means nothing unless Obama agrees to enforce border laws.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte's opposition to Obama's request is a sign that House Republicans are likely to consider their own ideas for how to fix the humanitarian crisis at the border, instead of quickly passing Obama's proposed emergency funding bill.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and other Republicans are rejecting Obama's $3.7 billion plan to fund expanded border operations. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said most of the money in Obama's proposal "seems geared towards processing Central Americans than stopping the surge itself," and said Obama needs to come up with a plan to deter more immigrants from trying to cross the border.
"Republicans are committed to solving this problem, including seeking changes to current law," he said. "However, no amount of resources or changes will be effective in stemming the surge of illegal border crossings if President Obama continues to ignore the law.
"President Obama can and should take action now to halt the flood of illegal crossings at our southwest border. President Obama has many tools at his disposal now to quell this activity at our southern border, such as enforcing immigration laws and cracking down on rampant asylum fraud."
"Unfortunately, none of these tools are mentioned in his proposal."
Goodlatte was backed up by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who said Congress shouldn't give Obama any money until he promises to enforce the border.
"This isn't a funding problem, it's an enforcement problem," Smith said. "Rather than enforce our nation's immigration laws, the President has chosen to ignore them.
"I'd be happy to give the president $3.7 billion to secure the border if I thought he'd actually do it," he added. "But time and again President Obama has shown that he cares more about the interests of illegal immigrants than of law abiding citizens."
Like-minded Republicans were supported by Heritage Action on Tuesday, which agreed that Obama's request only addresses symptoms, not the cause.
"The President should rescind his anti-enforcement policies and demonstrate a commitment to implementing existing law," said Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham. He also rejected the idea that the situation is an "emergency" that requires immediate passage of the bill, and said it could be dealt with as part of the regular appropriations process.
The designation of Obama's proposal as an "emergency" supplemental spending bill is meant to let it pass through Congress without finding any spending offsets. Republicans may also decide that any new funds needed must be offset somehow.