Members of the House of Representatives approved an amendment to a funding bill Wednesday that will block the U.S. Justice Department from spending money to combat a federal lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration reform. Proposed by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the amendment’s approval was the latest setback in the Obama administration’s bid to defend the constitutionality of the president’s actions.
The measure sought to amend a funding bill for the Justice, Commerce and Science Departments. The amendment narrowly passed with a 222-204 vote, the Associated Press reported. King, a longtime critic of immigration reform, urged his fellow congressmen to pass the amendment as a check against executive authority. “This is the Congress reasserting itself,” King said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) also expressed support for the amendment. “People who are in this country illegally, who have violated the immigration laws of the United States, need to be deported. We cannot, in the United States of America, expect to preserve this great republic handed down to us by our founders without enforcing the law,” he said.
Obama issued executive orders last November to shield approximately five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Shortly thereafter, a Texas-led coalition of 26 states filed a federal lawsuit against Obama’s actions, which they deemed to be unconstitutional.
In February, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen enacted an injunction that blocked the Obama administration from implementing Obama’s executive orders on a national level. The Justice Department filed an emergency request asking to lift the injunction, but a federal appeals court opted not to lift Hanen’s block at a hearing last month. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments related to the states’ lawsuit against Obama’s immigration policy on July 10 in New Orleans, The Hill reported.