75 Republicans join Dems to OK Homeland Security funds

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The Department of Homeland Security looks assured of operating for the rest of the year after the U.S. House approved a funding bill Tuesday without amendments sought by some House Republicans to bar the Obama administration from moving ahead with immigration executive orders.

The vote on the Senate bill was 257-167 — with all Democrats and 75 Republicans backing it. Six of Michigan’s nine House Republicans voted for it — with Reps. Tim Walberg of Tipton, Justin Amash of Cascade Township and Bill Huizenga of Zeeland voting against it.

President Obama vowed to sign the bill as soon as he received it.

The bill extends for the rest of the year the $40 billion Homeland Security Department budget. It now goes to President Barack Obama, who intends to sign it and end a standoff that began last year over funding.

The vote — allowed by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio — caused a split among House Republicans about the strategy for blocking Obama’s executive orders that seek to grant work permits to millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. The House failed to pass a three-week extension of funding Friday before agreeing to a one-week extension.

“We’ve got to stop playing this game,” said Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph. “We are in a very high state of risk right now — and to play this game when in fact a federal judge has blocked the president is wrong.”

Huizenga argued the House needed to reject the budget bill to protect the Constitution.

“While I believe ... the courts will affirm my position that President Obama does not have the authority to act unilaterally on immigration, it is my role to preserve the Constitution and defend the American people against an ever-growing executive authority,” he said.

Amash criticized Rep. Mike Simpson, the Idaho Republican who led the floor vote for full funding. “Rep Simpson apparently believes that Congress has no independent duty to support and defend the Constitution, despite our oath to do so,” he wrote on Twitter.

But Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, vice chair of the Homeland Security Committee, said Congress had no choice but to fund the department. Miller blasted Obama’s immigration orders but noted a Texas court has blocked them.

“I don’t think taking the Department of Homeland Security as a hostage was the right strategy personally,” Miller told The Detroit News.

“They (other Republicans) have no exit strategy. They just want to stand and say ‘I’m right.’ Or they always want to flash their pocket Constitution at you. Well, I have one; I’ve read it. I also remember that in the Constitution in the preamble it says the first and foremost responsibility of the federal government is to provide for the common defense.”

She said when the court ruled, Republicans should have seen an opportunity.

“Sometimes take the win — but, by the way, we have to fund the Department of Homeland Security,” said Miller, whose district has a large number of Homeland Security employeesand three Coast Guard stations.

“Every day, the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security work to secure our borders, respond to disasters, guard our coasts, protect our cybersecurity and keep our ports and airports safe,” Obama said. “They’re law enforcement professionals and brave patriots who do a remarkable job, and deserve our gratitude and respect. Today, after far too long, Congress finally voted to fully fund their mission.”