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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Monday, December 08, 2014

Spending Deal Near as Congress Puts Off Immigration Fight

By Heidi Przybyla
December 5, 2014

Congress is a step closer to funding most of the U.S. government through September 2015 with a plan that sidesteps Tea Party opposition and pushes the fight over immigration policy to the new Republican Congress.

After yesterday’s symbolic House vote to protest President Barack Obama’s order easing deportation of undocumented immigrants, committee leaders in both parties are working toward completion of a spending bill with votes expected next week. Democrats and Republicans said they plan to keep the government open after Dec. 11, when current funding expires.

“If the bill is anything that we can support, we will,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters today in Washington. While Pelosi said her party opposes “destructive” provisions sought by Republicans, she also said, “We’re not going to be a party to shutting down the government.”

House Speaker John Boehner devised the two-step strategy to keep Tea Party members from using the funding bill to vent their frustration over Obama’s executive orders. The real battle over immigration will come next year, when Republicans also control the Senate, Boehner of Ohio said yesterday.

“The House will work to keep the government open while keeping our leverage so that when we have reinforcements in the Senate, we’re in the strongest position to take additional actions to fight the president’s unilateral actions,” Boehner told reporters.

‘Best Chance’

That strategy “gives us the best chance for success,” he said.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski want to unveil the spending plan on Dec. 8 as negotiations continue over which policy provisions will be added, said a congressional aide who sought anonymity to describe the private talks.

Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, had said yesterday that he and Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, were close to completing the deal.

Pelosi said some policy provisions sought by Republicans were unacceptable to Democrats, including lower standards for school lunches, clean water and workplaces. Democrats want more funding for medical research and an extension of a federal insurance program that covers a portion of corporations’ losses from acts of terrorism, she said.

“Let us find our common ground and let us do it soon,” Pelosi said.

Homeland Security

Under Boehner’s plan, the Department of Homeland Security, with primary responsibility for immigration policy, would be funded only into March 2015.

That sets up a clash early next year, when he and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will face more pressure from the expanded Republican majority to retaliate against Obama’s action.

The timing also would let Republicans try to advance border security and immigration measures such as expanding visas for high-skilled workers.

“The smart thing for Republicans to do next year is to pass a strong border security bill, coupled with pro-reform initiatives that address issues like high-tech visas, and challenge Democrats to oppose it,” said Republican strategist Brian Walsh. Republicans “need to demonstrate that they are willing to lead on long-overdue issues like this.”

Hispanic Community

Such a strategy would be intended to limit political fallout from the Hispanic community following Republicans’ assault on Obama’s orders.

Immigration activists are warning of repercussions after yesterday’s House vote to block Obama’s immigration orders. The Democratic-led Senate won’t take up the bill.

“This is not a fight between Republicans and the president,” said Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, immigration policy director of the National Council of La Raza. “We will hold accountable anyone who chooses to play politics with people’s lives.”

Enactment of spending legislation next week would mark a victory for Boehner’s ability to prevent a rebellion among Tea Party-backed Republicans after the November election.

Tea Party Republicans’ bid to use a spending bill to defund Obamacare led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in October 2013.

Boehner’s approach is a rebuke of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who led the drive for the 2013 shutdown. Cruz had called for a short-term spending bill to block Obama’s immigration orders through funding for the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.

Allies of Cruz said they’re not giving up.

‘At Stake’

“The entire constitutional structure is at stake,” said Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who led opposition in the Senate. “I don’t think we should be timid about it.”

Separately, Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, said that “leadership, to their credit, is listening.”

In a minor concession to some Republicans, House leaders are considering a revision that would move up the fight over immigration funding after Congress reconvenes in January. Congress can seek to defund parts of the Homeland Security agency tasked with carrying out Obama’s orders.

Boehner may agree to move the expiration date of that agency’s funds to February instead of March, said a Republican aide who sought anonymity to describe the private talks.

Undocumented Immigrants

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate won’t consider the House bill that passed yesterday, H.R. 5759, which would deny the president authority to protect undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from deportation.

“It tears families apart while doing nothing to fix the real problems we face,” Reid said in a statement.

Democrats want to cut from the spending bill at least 70 Republican-sponsored provisions that would poke holes in Obama’s policies on the environment, health care and other matters.

In the Senate, Reid said he would be open to Boehner’s approach if Republican leaders could gather enough House votes to advance it.

Obama announced Nov. 20 that he would temporarily halt deportations for about 5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. His directive will defer for three years the deportation of people who came to the U.S. as children as well as parents of children who are citizens or legal permanent residents.

The Department of Homeland Security will streamline the visa process for foreign workers and their employers and give high-skilled workers more flexible work authorization.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

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