Attempts to Defund Administrative Relief Unlikely to Succeed

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Events in Paris make defunding DHS a risky maneuver for Republicans.
Events in Paris make defunding DHS a risky maneuver for Republicans.

With the leadership of the House of Representatives threatening to introduce legislation to block the implementation of President Barack Obama’s administrative relief program, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama plans to veto any such bill. He said that the president has warned the House not to “muck around with that legislation.”

“We’ve made clear, dating back to last fall, that the President would oppose any legislative effort to undermine the executive actions that he took to add greater accountability to our immigration system,” the press secretary said on Monday. The president is committed to allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits and a reprieve from deportation in the face of sometimes-fierce opposition in the House.

The House attempt to halt implementation will likely fail in the Senate as well. Senate conservatives will not get the 60 votes needed to pass a measure similar to the House proposal.

Opponents of administrative relief will be left with the choice of shutting down the Department of Homeland Security by denying it funding or allowing the program to proceed. At a time of heightened concerns about terrorism, most observers doubt that such a radical step will be taken.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that “defunding that part of the bill that deals with enforcing the executive order makes sense but we can’t go too far here because look what happened in Paris. The Department of Homeland Security needs to be up and running.”

There may be some Senate opponents of administrative relief who are unwilling to follow the House strategy. Sen. Mark Kirk, a moderate Illinois Republican said, “I think the defunding action leads us to a potential government shutdown scenario, which is a self-inflicted political wound for Republicans.”

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