Some Republicans in both the House and Senate are looking for ways to block the implementation of Barack Obama’s executive amnesty order. The thought of an outright legal challenge was mentioned, but for some reason that idea seems to have lost its appeal.
Then some Republicans began looking into the possibility of defunding or restricting the use of funds for the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. One of the options to accomplish this was writing a provision into the government appropriations budget banning any funding to be used for the implementation of any part of the amnesty order.
Republicans were exploring this option, but their plan was seemingly thwarted when they realized that the US Citizenship and Immigration Service is not funded through congressional appropriations. Their operating money is generated by the fees they collect.
The House Appropriations Committee issued a statement saying:
“Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the ‘E-Verify’ program. Therefore, the appropriations process cannot be used to ‘defund’ the agency.”
Just as they were about to abandon any idea of defunding Obama’s amnesty order, new hope surfaced. Although Congress could not stop CIS from receiving their funds from fee collections, it was discovered that they have the power to dictate how those fee generated funds are applied.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee requested that the non-partisan Congressional Research Service look into the funding procedures that affect CIS. That report has possibly renewed hope that Republicans can still block the amnesty order via appropriation restrictions. In part, the report reads:
“Amounts received as fees by federal agencies must still be appropriated by Congress to that agency in order to be available for obligation or expenditure by the agency.”
“In either case, the funds available to the agency through fee collections would be subject to the same potential restrictions imposed by Congress on the use of its appropriations as any other type of appropriated funds.”
Sessions commented about the report, saying:
“On its face, the suggestion that the White House can implement any unlawful and unconstitutional act so long as it pays for it with assessed fees is just plain wrong. The American people’s Congress has the power and every right to deny funding for unworthy activities.”
If congressional Republicans are going to act to restrict the use of the fee collected funding to block the implementation of Obama’s amnesty order, they need to do so immediately. The current short term spending authority of the federal government ends December 11.
However, the same report that may give Republicans hope to block the amnesty order also warns them to be very careful on how they word it. The report states:
“The context in which a restriction on funds collected through fees or otherwise made available is enacted will determine which agencies or activities will be subject to that restriction. It is at least a theoretical possibility that a court could find that such a restriction reached activities or agencies that were entirely fee-funded.”
The question now is whether or not House and Senate Republicans have the integrity and courage to take action to block the use of the funds for the implementation of Obama’s amnesty order or will they roll over and play dead as they have so many times in the past 6 years? Hopefully we’ll find out in less than 2 weeks.