Rep. John Fleming voted against the $1.1 trillion bill to prevent a federal government shutdown on Thursday because it did not fully defund the executive orders President Barack Obama announced last month to provide deportation relief and other benefits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants.
"The main issue for me is that it continues to fund Obama's unlawful, unconstitutional executive amnesty," the Louisiana Republican told Newsmax.
But Rep. Tom Marino supported the bill for exactly the same reason: It did not defund Obama's executive orders.
"Putting that in the bill and sending it over to the Senate, Harry Reid would have taken it out," the Pennsylvania Republican said, referring to the Democratic majority leader. "He really would have stripped out all of the progress we had made in that bill — and we would not have been able to defund the amnesty executive orders.
"We've got a better deal here," Marino told Newsmax. "We've got the president in a box."
Capping a tumultuous day in the House, legislators narrowly passed the funding measure on a 219-206 vote
. The move sends the bill to the Senate for consideration.
The representatives also passed a bill extending current government funding for 48 hours to give the Senate time to act on the larger bill.
The federal government was to run out of money at midnight.
The $1.1 trillion legislation would finance almost all of the government through the end of the budget year, on Sept. 30. It also locked in cuts negotiated in recent years between Republicans and the White House.
However, the Department of Homeland Security is funded only through Feb. 27. Republicans hope to force President Obama to roll back the executive orders he announced on Nov. 20. The agency oversees the nation's immigration laws.
"With a bipartisan vote, the House has passed a responsible bill to keep the government running and address the American people’s priorities," House Speaker John Boehner said after the vote. "This measure puts us on track to save taxpayers more than $2.1 trillion while protecting jobs and supporting our national defense.
"In addition, by the House’s action, we are setting up a direct challenge to the president’s unilateral actions on immigration next month, when there will be new Republican majorities in both chambers," Boehner said. "The Senate should act on this bipartisan legislation in short order."
But Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions vowed to fight the immigration provisions in the upper chamber.
"The omnibus provides the administration with billions of dollars to carry out President Obama’s resettlement plan for illegal immigrants in U.S. communities," Sessions said. "The legislation also continues to allow the recipients of the president’s amnesty to receive billions of dollars in government checks in the form of tax credits and to participate in programs through myriad government agencies such as Social Security and Medicare."
Other House Republicans were just as adamant in their opposition to those aspects of the passed legislation.
"I am disappointed by tonight’s outcome, but I will continue to do everything in my power to prevent the president’s illegal actions in this Congress and the next," said Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon.
"What separates us from the monarchies or dictatorships of the past is the principle that the power of government must be separated to pit ambition against ambition," he said. "The rule of law must prevail above all else for such a system to function."
Signaling problems from the outset, the bill barely made it to the House floor for debate.
Boehner called for a recess shortly after 2 p.m. after Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the bill for two Republican additions.
Pelosi charged that one rider would cripple the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation Congress passed in 2010 after the economic debacle, and another would allow wealthy contributors to increase the size of their donations to political parties for various causes.
"This is a ransom," the California Democrat charged on the House floor. "This is blackmail. You don't get a bill unless Wall Street gets its taxpayer coverage."
She also sent out an email after the recess began urging Democrats to hold out for a compromise that would remove the provisions.
The White House supported the bill, but attacked the Republican additions — and both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden lobbied Democrats by telephone to back the bill.
Obama later sent White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to Capitol Hill to lobby party members on behalf of the bill.
The House reconvened shortly before 9 p.m. for a brief debate and the final vote.
In his Newsmax interview, Rep. Fleming said that he agreed with Pelosi on the Dodd-Frank objections, but said that smaller banks would be most affected — not big ones.
"The truth is that the banks that are really hurting under Dodd-Frank, really getting no relief, are the community banks," Fleming said. "This would make it further less competitive between the community banks and the big banks — and so we end up with even bigger and bigger banks again that are too big to fail and more bailouts."
Boehner also worked Republicans during the recess — and Marino said that the speaker promised to bring forth legislation to defund Obama's immigration orders immediately after the GOP-controlled Congress is installed next month.
"It's a win-win situation for us," Marino told Newsmax. "We'll address defunding the president's amnesty executive orders immediately when we get back — and he'll have no time to do anything."
The speaker also lobbied Republicans to get the spending bill to the floor for a vote earlier Thursday. That effort passed on just two votes, 214-212.
Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who had not yet voted, supported the motion. He tied the vote at 213 each.
Michigan Rep. Kerry Bentivolio then switched his position to cast the deciding vote.
He lost his re-election bid last month and, finishing his first term, will not be returning to the House in January.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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