The House version of a Border Security bill cleared committee Wednesday night, after frustrated Democratic committee members ran out of ways to effectively stomp their feet.
Members of the Committee on Homeland Security met soon after 2 p.m. Wednesday to consider and debate potential amendments to the “Secure Our Borders First Act,” before passing it through to the House. Chairman Michael McCaul introduced the bill Friday, saying it would beef up border patrol capabilities, and establish an independent commission to verify the security of the border.
It’s on a leadership sponsored fast track that is frustrating Democrats, so they used procedural maneuvers and delay tactics to obstruct the bill and make things difficult for McCaul and the rest of the Republican committee members.
“Isn’t it fun?” California Rep. Loretta Sanchez told The Daily Caller News Foundation when the hearing finally ended after 10 p.m. “Isn’t it great when Republicans don’t show us a bill?”
After the Democrats voiced their initial objections to being shut out of the drafting process, and drew out a couple of procedural votes to bring it before the committee, the members left for a vote on the House floor.
When they returned, McCaul and ranking member Bennie Thompson met behind closed doors for over an hour, where McCaul threatened to shut down the amendment process altogether and simply pass the Republican version of the bill if the Democrats didn’t stop the delay tactics.
The clerk then read the entire bill, which contained a few non-substantial Republican amendments, at the insistence of the Democrats. Finally, all five amendments offered by Democrats were debated and voted down.
Thompson told The Daily Caller News Foundation the show was an “expression of disappointment” for Democrats. “We were shut out of the process,” he said. “So you don’t give us much choice when the first real opportunity we get to see a bill, and have any opportunity to express any consideration is at the hearing.”
Sanchez said the goal was to make it clear the bill is entirely partisan. “They can go out and they can shine out their Republican product,” Sanchez said. “But it’s a bad product when you don’t have Democratic input.”
But McCaul said the strong opposition only motivates him to pass the bill. “The Democrats have indicated they will do anything to make sure this bill does not pass, which tells me that this is exactly the bill our border needs,” he said in a statement Wednesday night.
Some conservatives worry McCaul’s bill is merely a symbolic gesture toward Americans who do not want more immigration, and who are upset with President Obama’s executive order granting work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. (RELATED: New GOP Border Security Bill Removes Border Fences)
Republican leadership could use the border security bill to justify a larger immigration plan that would satisfy big businesses desire for cheap labor, and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
McCaul insisted the bill is tough enough to properly secure the border. “We must stop the bleeding at the border,” he said in the statement. “The bill matches resources to needs, putting fencing where fencing is needed and technology where technology is needed.”
McCaul’s bill will go through the Rules Committee to the House floor for a vote. A similar bill is working its way through the Senate.