Lawmakers Summoned Back to DC as Border Bill Hangs in Balance
(WASHINGTON) — Cancel that flight, congressman.
Lawmakers departing on Thursday for their annual August recess are now being told “not so fast” after the House Republican leadership pulled a $659 million bill to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border.
Several House Republicans told ABC News they were furious about not taking a vote on the bill, and they were pushing for a chance to do so before leaving town.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told lawmakers to stay near the Capitol, suggesting that a vote could still take place on Thursday.
In fact, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., told ABC News that he was at the airport when he was summoned back to the Capitol for a closed-door GOP meeting.
Rogers said it became clear Thursday morning the conservative defections were growing, but he said he and others believe the House should vote — up or down — on immigration.
“I would like to see us have a vote,” Rogers said in an interview.
There is an unusual air of uncertainty in the Capitol, mixed with a big dose of dysfunction, as rank-and-file Republicans discuss whether to have a vote on immigration before they go home for August recess.
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., told ABC News that he believes lawmakers need to vote. Leaving town without doing so, he said, will be difficult to explain to constituents. He supports the immigration bill.
At issue is a Tea Party revolt that broke out on Thursday among House Republicans inspired by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who urged members late into the night to oppose a bill to approve more money to address the border crisis.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, thought he had enough Republican votes for the spending bill, but he canceled a vote after it appeared that was not the case.
Earlier on Thursday, Boehner, along with his Republican colleagues — Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state — issued the following statement on the legislation:
“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference — and among the American people — about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws. There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries,” the quartet of lawmakers wrote in a joint statement. “For the past month, the House has been engaged in intensive efforts to pass legislation that would compel the president to do his job and ensure it can be done as quickly and compassionately as possible. Through an inclusive process, a border bill was built by listening to members and the American people that has the support not just of a majority of the majority in the House, but most of the House Republican Conference.”
The decision by GOP leaders sparked a counter revolt, and members of Congress say they’ve rarely seen an afternoon like this.
Of course, even if the House does pass its $659 million border bill, it still faces certain defeat in the Senate.
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