Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Tuesday said the House's proposed $659 million spending bill to address the border crisis is effectively a sign of surrender to President Barack Obama, since it contains no language that would stop Obama from granting amnesty and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants.
Sessions has warned that reports indicate Obama is planning to take this step, and that Congress must seek to defund this possible action or watch as expensive efforts to secure the border fail under the weight of an even bigger flood of immigrants.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent keeps watch in Roma, Texas, across the Rio Grande River from Ciudad Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Congress remains deeply split over how to deal with the immigration crisis that has seen roughly 60,000 children cross the border into Texas. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)
"Any action Congress might consider to address the current border crisis would be futile should the president go forward with these lawless actions," Sessions said. "Congress must speak out and fight against them. It must use its spending power to stop the president's executive amnesty.
"That the House leaders' border package includes no language on executive actions is surrender to a lawless president," he added. "And it is a submission to the subordination of congressional power."
Sessions also said the bill is "unworthy of support" because it failed to tighten up rules for granting asylum to immigrants. He said that means the new immigration judges the bill would fund would end up allowing more immigrants to stay in the U.S. longer.
"It is a plan for expedited asylum, not expedited approval," he said.
Sessions's comments were released just a few hours after the House released a bill proposing $659 million in more funds to secure the border and process the thousands of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the U.S. border.
The House bill is a more modest attempt to resolve the problem. It only spends money in the current fiscal year, in contrast to Obama's proposal for $3.7 billion in new funds.
Opposition from Sessions complicates an already complicated situation when it comes to passing the bill. The House will likely be able to pass the GOP leadership bill just with Republican support, but Senate Republicans appear much less unified on a proposal.
In addition, Senate Democrats are not likely to accept the GOP plan. Earlier Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Democrats may try to attach the Senate's comprehensive immigration bill onto the House legislation.
But doing that would likely lose nearly every Senate Republican. And even if Reid could pass a bill combining border measures with immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) fired back Tuesday afternoon that the House would never consider this proposal.
"Senator Reid, embarrassed that he cannot strong-arm the Senate into passing the blank check President Obama demanded, is making a deceitful and cynical attempt to derail the House's common-sense solution," Boehner said.
"So let me be as clear as I can be with Senator Reid: the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion," he added. "Nor will we accept any attempt to add any other comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act, to the House's targeted legislation, which is meant to fix the actual problems causing the border crisis."
Boehner said immigration reform has "no place" in efforts to resolve the border crisis, and that trying to add them would fail.