Thursday, March 13, 2014

House GOP and Five Democrats Pass Bill that Attacks Exec Orders, Threatens DREAMers

Yesterday, the House passed the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law Act of 2014 (ENFORCE). Aren't Republicans cute with their acronyms?
The bill enables Congress to file civil lawsuits against the executive branch for failing to enforce the law.

The bill could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DREAM-lite), which is based on the principle of prosecutorial discretion.

From The Hill:
Democrats argued Republicans were overreacting to executive branch discretion that all presidents have had — discretion that has been accepted in several court cases. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said the constitutional duty to ensure that the laws are "faithfully" executed lies only with the president.
"Questions about when and how to implement and enforce laws are within the president's discretion, as the 'take care' clause makes clear," Cohen said. "It is the president's duty alone to take care that laws be faithfully executed, not the courts and not Congress's."
Some Democrats argued that Republicans were pursuing the law in order to reverse Obama's decision to prioritize deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) charged that Republicans seemed interested in deporting the wives of immigrants serving in the U.S. military.
"We knew that the majority wanted to deport the Dream Act kids, because they voted for the King amendment last year," she said. "But if you want to deport the wives of American soldiers in Afghanistan, I'm sorry; it's a new low."
Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said that, if the bill had been law in decades past, it would have had the effect of blocking some of the country's most important social and political developments.
"If H.R. 4138 had been law in 1861, the Congress could have sued President Lincoln for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, because Congress could have concluded that President Lincoln had failed to enforce then-existing laws protecting the institution of slavery," he said.
"Likewise, if H.R. 4138 had been law in 1948, Congress could have sued President Truman for issuing Executive Order 9981, which desegregated the Armed Services in contravention of then-existing military policy."
It passed 233 to 181, with 5 Democrats joining the full Republican caucus. 

Those five Democrats were John Barrow (GA-12), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Pete Gallego (TX-23), Collin Peterson (MN-07), and Nick Rahall (WV-03).

The House rejected three Democratic amendments.

John Conyers (MI-13) offered an amendment to exclude any actions to combat discrimination or to protect civil rights. It failed 188-227. All Democrats and one Republican—Chris Gibson (NY-19) voted for it.

Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) offered an amendment to exclude from the bill any action taken under a claim of prosecutorial discretion. It failed 190-225.

4 Republicans supported it: Jeff Denham (CA-10), Mario Diaz Balart (FL-25), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), and David Valadao (CA-21). All four come from districts with large Latino populations.
1 Democrat opposed it: Sean Maloney (NY-18).

Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-28) offered an amendment to exclude any action taken to comply with a judicial decision interpreting the Constitution or federal laws. It failed 185-231.

Chris Gibson (NY-19) was the sole Republican supporter. Four Democrats opposed it: Ron Barber (AZ-02), Mike McIntyre (NC-07), Bill Owens (NY-21), and Collin Peterson (MN-07).

The president has already expressed his intention to veto it, viewing the bill as unconstitutional, and Harry Reid has noted that it is DOA in the Senate.

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