In a matter of minutes, Senate Democrats on Tuesday adjourned for the summer, blocking a pair of House bills that would have provided nearly $700 million to deal with the surge of immigrants on the southern border and blocked President Obama from expanding an anti-deportation program.
Senators left Friday for a five-week recess, hours before the House passed the border legislation in a late-night session. The Senate gaveled in briefly Tuesday, just long enough for Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., to object to taking up the House bills. They can be taken up later, but the Senate agreed to adjourn until Sept. 8, virtually guaranteeing there will be no action this summer.
The Senate had its own border bill, worth $2.7 billion, but they did not take it up before leaving town.
Obama said he planned to act unilaterally to deal with the border crisis because if the inaction of Congress.
Before gaveling the senate to adjournment, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., called on Obama to reconsider further executive action on immigration.
In addition to dealing with the border crisis, Obama is expected this month to sign an executive order that could provide work authorization to millions of illegal immigrants.
It would be an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals memorandum that Obama signed in 2012, which allows some young people who arrived here illegally as children to avoid deportation for two years.
The second House bill aims to defund this program.
Sessions said Obama should “reconsider this plan” because it would be detrimental to American jobs and wages, and he argued that the debate extends beyond immigration reform.
“This is more than a dispute over who should enter and what kind of amnesty should be offered, if any,” Sessions said. “It’s a challenge to the integrity of our constitutional order and this Senate.”
Sessions called on lawmakers to demand that the Senate vote on the House bills to defund the DACA program and make other reforms to border security.
Sessions also asked the public “to call their representatives and ask where they stand on this issue and whether your elected representative should demand that we at least have a vote on this.”