GOP Maximizes on Homeland Security BillJune 15, 2007 - by Donny Shaw
After forcing Democrats to include all earmarks in 2008 spending bills as they go through the House, Republicans scored yet another victory. Today, while debating the first of this year’s twelve spending bills — which happened only after Democrats capitulated to Republicans on the earmark dustup — the Republican minority approved an amendment in a display of solidarity against granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
>The U.S. House of Representatives this morning voted to withhold federal emergency services funding for “sanctuary cities” that protect illegal immigrants.
>Anti-illegal immigration champion Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., sponsored the measure, which he says would apply to cities such as Denver and Boulder. He was elated by its passage, which stunned critics and supporters alike.
“Sanctuary cities” are cities with policies in place to prevent city employees from notifying Federal authorities about the presence of illegal immigrants.Tancredo (pictured above) has tried eight times since 2004 to pass this amendment, but until now it had always failed. This time, the vote was a decisive 234-189, with 49 Democrats deflecting from their party to vote for it. Only nine Republicans voted against it.
Speaker of the House Nany Pelosi (D, CA) has repeatedly said that she will not allow debate of a comprehensive immigration bill in the House unless President Bush can guarantee at least 70 Republican votes. Since the Senate’s immigration bill would allow illegal immigrants to get on a path to citizenship (a provision derided by the GOP as “amnesty”), the passage Tancredo’s amendment indicates that Republican opposition to the bill in the House will be strong. Sanctuary cities are, for all intents and purposes, models of what the amnesty provision would do to the whole country.
>Tancredo said he thinks his amendment is an indicator that the House would crush the reform plan if it passes in the Senate.
>"If I were (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi, I’d be asking if she could pass a vote on amnesty on the House side," Tancredo said. “If she lost 50 Democrats on this one, and she says she needs 70 Republicans to pass the immigration plan, this is an interesting indicator of things coming down the pike, and that the times, they are a-changing.”
The victory is more political than practical. The President has threatened to veto the Homeland Security funding bill that the amendment is now attached to because it exceeds his request by $2.1 billion. When it is vetoed, the Tancredo amendment will go down with it. Having the veto threat looming over the bill may have emboldened anti-amnesty lawmakers to vote for the amendment. The Washington Post article covering the passage of the bill does not mention Tancredo’s victory, but it quotes Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R, MO) claiming Republicans’ fiscal superiority:
>"Today we reminded them [House Democrats] that there will be reasonable limits to that spending in securing the votes necessary to uphold a presidential veto."
So, that’s three separate victories the GOP is claiming in regards to this one bill — insisting on earmark transparency, displaying solidarity against amnesty, and upholding fiscal responsibility. But Republicans have a legacy of secret and excessive earmarking, and the two othervictories cross each other out: If Republicans and the 49 Democrats who voted for the Tancredo amendment really wanted to see it become law, they would be lamenting the fact that they couldn’t override a veto, not bragging that they can sustain it.