The GOP-led House of Representatives on Thursday added its voice to a legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s controversial executive orders that changed immigration enforcement rules, approving a resolution that authorizes House Speaker Paul Ryan to file an amicus brief in a case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The measure passed mostly along party lines, 234-186, with five Republicans opposing it.
Immigration has been a flashpoint in the divisive 2016 presidential race. Members of both parties have blamed each other for problems in the current system and for Congress’ inability to pass any significant legislation to address the issues.
Ryan argued that the unprecedented move to weigh in on the case — U.S. v. Texas et al — on behalf of the entire House of Representatives was more about preserving the position of the legislative branch of government than advocating his party’s position on immigration.
“This is not a question of whether we are for or against a certain policy. Members who are here making immigration policy arguments are missing the whole point here. This comes down to a much more fundamental question. It is about the integrity of our Constitution,” Ryan argued.
But House Democrats immediately linked House Republicans to the controversial front-runner for the GOP nomination for president.
“Sadly, there’s not much difference between Donald Trump and House Republicans when it comes to a record of appalling anti-immigrant statements and an agenda of discrimination,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.
Last week, more than 200 House and Senate Democrats filed their own amicus brief in support of the President’s executive actions that allowed children of undocumented workers to remain in the United States. They argued that they took action in the Supreme Court case outside of their official capacity, and the GOP shouldn’t be using taxpayer money to advance a political agenda.
But Republicans maintained that the President’s actions in bypassing Congress forced them to act.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is advising House Republicans pro bono on the case, and the brief is expected to be filed soon by the House counsel.