A week ago, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers declared that Congress would not be able to defund government spending
as a way to circumvent President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is self-funded through fees collected on immigration applications.
But Rogers was wrong, according to Breitbart
News, which reports that the Congressional Research Service — a nonpartisan branch of the Library of Congress that provides public policy research — concluded that Congress has the authority to block the funding needed to implement the executive order, which grants de facto amnesty to some five million illegal immigrants.
"In light of Congress’s constitutional power over the purse, the Supreme Court has recognized that 'Congress may always circumscribe agency discretion to allocate resources by putting restrictions in the operative statutes,'" states the Congressional Research Service’s report sent to chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who is seeking to head the Senate Budget Committee.
"Where Congress has done so, 'an agency is not free simply to disregard statutory responsibilities.' Therefore, if a statute were enacted which prohibited appropriated funds from being used for some specified purposes, then the relevant funds would be unavailable to be obligated or expended for those purposes."
Congress must pass a spending bill by Dec. 11 to keep the government funded through September 2015.
Republicans are scrambling to draft a short-term bill that would fund the government only into early 2015, allowing the incoming Congress to deal with Obama’s recently inked action on executive immigration, according to The New York Times
Rogers had said that since the USCIS did not collect tax revenue from the federal government, Congress had no mechanism by which to strip funding.
USCIS prints work authorizations and other documents for illegal immigrants, according to Breitbart.
A House Appropriations aide told The Hill that the Congressional Research Service study is not contradictory to the panel’s position.
"In no way does the CRS report contradict anything that we've said," according to the unidentified aide. "It would take an act of Congress to change the underlying statute to restrict the use of fees.
"To restrict the fees, a law would have to be passed, which means a presidential signature.
"Barring that, the agency can continue to collect and use fees without an annual appropriation, meaning that in the event of a government shutdown, the agency would continue to operate, while other functions of government close."
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