The series of amendments to the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill that passed in the House of Representatives January 14, were aimed at “rolling back” President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration, but also went beyond the November 20, 2014 announcements to undo administrative memos going back to 2011. The legislation passed the House on a vote of 236-191 with all Democrats voting against final passage.
During the debate on the omnibus appropriations at the end of December, there was some controversy over whether or not the appropriations bills could even be used to stop implementation of the executive actions. Since USCIS’s money to process applications comes from the fees filed, it is true that Congress would not have a line item in the appropriations bill to zero out, thus “defunding” the program. However, appropriations bills regularly contain authorizing language that state clearly that “no funds shall be spent” for specific programs or policies of which Congress does not approve. To address this issue, the relevant amendment language state that “No funds or fees made available to the Secretary of Homeland Security, or any other official of a Federal Agency” could be used to carry out the various policies. This language seems sufficient to prevent implementation of the policies by the agencies, if enacted.
So which policies, exactly, would the amendments prevent the agencies from implementing? The chart below shows the amendments, the program or policies at which they are aimed and some of the potential effects, if the amendments were enacted.