In a landmark victory for advocates of immigration reform everywhere, the House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to approve funding for the Department of Homeland Security for the entire fiscal year, according to Reuters. This news comes at an incredibly pivotal moment for immigration reform, as the current amount of funding available for the agency to continue processing applications for deferred deportation was set to expire by midnight on Friday, March 6, 2015. While the bill has not yet been signed into law, President Barack Obama has backed it throughout its legislative journey and indicated that he will sign it as soon as the draft is officially through the House.
Fox News has reported that the bill passed by a considerable majority, ultimately drawing a tally of 257 votes for to 167 against. The bill itself allocates an incredible sum of money, nearly $40 billion, to the agency, much of which will be used for the processing of applications from undocumented immigrants seeking deferral from deportation processes on their path to American citizenship. In his quest to completely overhaul reform processes, Obama has been working toward making this privilege available to individuals who arrived here from other countries and have since met certain qualifications. Multiple news outlets have indicated that, were the bill not to have passed, DHS would have had to release nearly 15 percent of its workforce, much of which is centralized in the D.C. area.
In order to battle president Obama on the issue, Republicans who opposed the allocation of these DHS funds to immigration reform had been approving one week’s worth of funding at a time. This strategy is believed by many to have been intended to allow more time for them to barter with Obama regarding the exact wording and provisions outlined in his new immigration policies. In speaking with Reuters on the matter after the vote’s results came through, Indiana Representative Luke Messer, expressed dissatisfaction at this resolution.
“The speaker made the case that he had hoped to continue to fight for three more weeks. Obviously, we didn’t win that vote last week, so we are where we are,” said Messer. “It’s disappointing. I had hoped we’d be able to continue to fight.”
The speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner (R-Ohio), has been one of the foremost dissenting voices in the restructuring of funding for DHS and immigration reform. It was believed by many individuals close to the situation that he would continue to fight the funding proposed by the Democrats as long as possible, but he seems to have made something of an about face on Tuesday. Upon realizing that the Democrats would not waver in their efforts to pass the desired funding, USA Today reports that Boehner addressed House Republicans and stated that other threats to the country outweighed the immigration debate in this moment.
“I believe this decision – considering where we are – is the right one for this team and the right one for this country,” said Boehner.