Congress Targets Immigration, Health Care in First Two Weeks

January 16, 2015

So far, the first two weeks of the 114th Congress have confirmed the assumption by many that the next two years will be an exercise in gridlock between the legislative and executive branches.  House Republicans immediately took aim at the Affordable Care Act, passing HR Policy-supported legislation to change its definition of full-time work to 40 hours per week.  The bill garnered 12 Democrat votes in support.  The Senate will likely not vote on the bill for a few weeks, but the President has already vowed to veto it.  House Republicans also acted swiftly to seek to block the President's immigration reform actions, passing a Homeland Security appropriations bill this week that included language preventing any money from being used to implement the reforms.  If passed, the bill would not only block the President's latest announcement of deferred deportation for the parents of undocumented immigrants, but would also end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that the administration created in 2012 to provide temporary deportation relief to young immigrants.  The funding measure stands little chance of passing the Senate, where Republicans would need a minimum of six Democratic votes, and even if it did, the President would almost certainly veto the measure.  The stand-off poses a political challenge to Republican leaders on how to fund the Department of Homeland Security before the February 27 deadline and avoid a politically damaging shutdown, without alienating their most conservative members as a result.