House and Senate Republicans left their two-day retreat in Hershey, Pa., Friday apparently as divided on immigration issues as when they arrived at the Sweetest Place on Earth.
While almost all are united in their disdain for President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, congressional Republicans still seem split over what to do about fixing the nation’s immigration laws.
Some, such as Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said during the retreat that the House spoke Wednesday when it passed a $39.7 billion bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September and roll back several of Obama’s immigration executive actions.
‘We have to move forward in the House on our own terms and where our members are, and that means step-by-step individual policies that we put forward,’ McHenry told reporters Friday. ‘It’s time for the Senate to deal with the bill we sent them. We’ve given them plenty of time. When we have six or seven weeks to deal with an appropriations bill, it’s ample time. We made our statement, now the Senate needs to make theirs and we’ll see how the legislative process works.’
But other Republican lawmakers continued to express unease about the party’s path on immigration and say the party needs to have an overall conversation on the issue.
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., was among the House Republicans who voted against an amendment in the Homeland Security bill to eliminate funding for Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The program defers the deportation of young immigrants who were brought to this country as children.
‘I think that sends the wrong message to the American public on what our overall reform ideas are,’ Denham said in Hershey Thursday.
The House bill heads to the Senate where its prospects are slim. Getting the 60 Senate votes to move the measure forward appears unlikely as Republicans, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mark Kirk of Illinois, are concerned about the linking of homeland security funding with immigration issues, especially in the wake of a recent spate of the terrorist attacks and threats worldwide.
Several moderate Senate Democrats are also balking at the House bill. Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plans to give the bill a go in the upper chamber.
‘We’re going to try to pass it, that would be the first choice,’ he told reporters Thursday. ‘If we are unable to do that, we’ll let you know what comes next.’