A key House committee led by Republicans ignored several GOP proposals Wednesday night that were aimed at defunding President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.
Those proposals were brought forward as amendments to a $1 trillion spending bill, and represented the last chance Republicans had to amend that huge bill before its expected passage on Thursday.
The House Rules Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), ignored requests by Republicans to allow a vote on language to defund President Barack Obama's immigration move.
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The House Rules Committee debated the proposals for a few hours, but they were doomed to fail from the start. Republican leaders have decided that including them on the bill would lead to opposition and delays in the Democratic Senate, and risk a government shutdown when federal funding expires at the end of Thursday.
Still, the amendments put Republican members of the committee in the awkward position of having to oppose them to avoid a shutdown.
Earlier in the day, one House aide guessed that the committee might reject the proposals in a voice vote, in order to avoid a formal vote tally showing GOP opposition to the amendments. But in the end, no Republican on the committee formally offered up any of the proposals for a vote, which let the committee escape without having to hold any vote at all on Obama's immigration plan.
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) made it clear during the meeting that he and other GOP members were worried about the prospect of a government shutdown, and wanted to delay the immigration fight until next year.
"We are, whether we like it or not, on a timetable," he said. Sessions added that the Senate would never be able to consider the bill in the next few days if the House did "something that is extraneous to the process that's been agreed to."
Sessions also warned that including the language could lead to a government shutdown, and said that could make it harder for Republicans to bring up similar language next year.
"If something happened where the government got shut down as a result of this, because it was never gonna be successful, then we might not come back to it, and we might not be able to prevail on the issue because the time before we should have learned our lesson," he said.
Sessions did promise that he would allow a similar amendment to come up early next year, when Congress will again have to consider funding for immigration-related functions of the federal government. Under the spending bill, Department of Homeland Security funding lasts only until February 27.
Those seeking amendment votes said it could be too late by next year. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) proposed language to defund Obama's immigration action, since Obama's action will start to be implemented next year.
Mulvaney also said he and other Republicans don't want to vote for the spending bill without the defunding language, since they believe Obama's immigration moves are illegal.
"I believe that this president violated the separation of power and the Constitution by doing what he did," he said. "I have a real problem voting to enable something that I believe, fund something that I believe is unconstitutional, even for 24 hours."
Mulvaney's amendment was also supported by Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who defeated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a primary earlier this year.
Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) proposed related amendments to the bill. But while King and Gohmert spoke about their ideas in front of the committee, no GOP member of the committee formally proposed the for a vote, so those were ignored as well.