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NC lawmakers explain votes on key homeland department funding bill

By Renee Schoof, Raleigh News and Observer

A partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security was averted on Tuesday when the House of Representatives voted 257-167 to pass full funding for the rest of the fiscal year. It includes money for executive orders on immigration that President Barack Obama signed in recent years.

Most Democrats and 75 Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, voted for it. The Senate had already passed the measure with bipartisan backing. Obama is expected to sign it.

Conservative Republicans were especially vocal on the issue, saying the immigration orders are against the law and that providing funding for them is wrong. Others, Republican and Democrat, have said closing a government agency over that issue was irresponsible.

Now temporarily in effect, those orders provide work authority and waivers from potential deportation to hundreds of thousands of young people known as “dreamers” as well as to four million-plus parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents born before Nov. 20, 2014 who are in the United States unlawfully.

The delegation cast a series of votes on the issue last week, ahead of this week’s resolution.

Here’s how North Carolina lawmakers explained their Tuesday votes.

Those who voted for full funding: Republican Reps. Renee Ellmers, Robert Pittenger and Patrick McHenry, and Democratric Reps. David Price, G.K. Butterfield and Alma Adams.

Price: “I am pleased that its responsible funding decisions will now become law, providing critical support for national security priorities like White House security, first responder and anti-terror grants, drug and human trafficking interdiction, and immigration enforcement,” Price said in a statement. “This shutdown controversy, while great political theater, was completely unnecessary and avoidable.”

Pittenger: “Our first, most basic responsibility is to protect the United States of America. As Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, I am fully aware of current threats including an increase in lone-wolf attacks, the risks posed by thousands of ISIS jihadists possessing Western passports, and threats by an al-Qaeda affiliate against American shopping malls. At this time, it would be irresponsible to not provide full funding for our Homeland Security operations.

Adams: “Now, more than ever, we need a well-funded and fully functioning Department of Homeland Security. We are facing global threats and the threat of lone wolf attacks here at home is becoming more and more real. Approving this funding was critical.”

Those who voted against full funding: Republican Reps. George Holding, David Rouzer, Walter Jones, Richard Hudson, Mark Meadows, Mark Walker and Virginia Foxx.

Holding: "There has been a lot of heated political rhetoric about President Obama’s executive actions. I won’t add to it. The issue here is straightforward: Does the president have the power – the legal power – to change our immigration laws? A federal judge, Andrew Hanen, has ruled he does not – that no law gives the president that power. I believe that is correct, and today I voted against funding these unlawful actions."

Jones: “I don’t think any of us who voted this way, that our intent was to shut down the government. But if that’s the end result, so be it. We’ve got to take a stand. ... Instead of taking a stand saying we think you have overstepped your responsibilities, we seem to cave in. And I think this is exactly what the leadership is doing again.”

Hudson: “I refuse to vote to legitimize the president’s illegal actions and grant amnesty and hard-earned tax dollars to illegal immigrants. ... By bypassing Congress to unilaterally rewrite our immigration laws, President Obama is ignoring the will of the American people and putting the constitutional foundation of our nation at risk.”

Meadows: His spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, said that he could not vote for the full funding measure because it “funded the president’s unconstitutional executive action.”

Walker: The outcome of the vote “further capitulates to these obstructionists in the Senate..." He said "too many" House members were "willing to sacrifice the provisions defunding the president’s executive actions in order to keep the Department of Homeland Security open. While I don’t agree with their decision, I can understand the concern many members have voiced regarding the security threat posed by closing or compromising DHS at this critical hour."

Foxx: “Unfortunately, this legislation does nothing to prevent President Obama’s unlawful plans to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens through executive actions, which undermine our system of checks and balances. While House Republicans made good-faith efforts to resolve the situation, Senate Democrats and the president refused to contribute to finding a solution. Now, the fight against the president’s blatant overreach of his Constitutionally-granted executive authority will be litigated in the courts. I will continue to work tirelessly to hold the president accountable for his utter disregard of the law and the will of the American people.”

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