Byline: David Martosko
Republicans in the House of Representatives are falling over each other in the race to file legislation that would stop President Barack Obama from implementing his far-reaching immigration plan.
No fewer than five separate GOP-sponsored bills are already pending in the House just 24 hours after the 114th Congress launched on Tuesday.
They all seek to do largely the same thing: prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from spending a single dime in 2015 on any part of Obama's plan, which he announced in December.
The president's aim is to mainstream 5 million or more people living in the U.S. illegally, giving them residency and work permits and guaranteeing them that they won't be deported back to their home countries.
Republicans, particularly those regarded as ultra-conservative, labeled the scheme an 'amnesty' for lawbreakers and have vowed to block it.
Alabama Reps. Martha Roby and Robert Aderholt have two competing bills. Pennsylvania Rep Tom Marino, Texas Rep. Ted Poe and Florida Rep. Ted Yoho have measures of their own pending.
A confrontation with the White House is expected soon.
'The president’s executive actions with regard to immigration are outside of the Constitution and outside of his powers,' House Speaker John Boehner told reporters during a press briefing on Wednesday.
'We can deal with that issue in the Department of Homeland Security bill without jeopardizing the security of our country.'
Republicans still have to deal with Homeland Security funding because they separated it from the federal budget in December as a condition of funding the rest of the government through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
America's immigration enforcement agencies are part of DHS.
Conservatives had pledged to scuttle the larger budget last month unless they were guaranteed another chance in February to hold the money over Obama's head.
They hope the leverage will force the president to back off from his strategy to give safe harbor to millions of illegal immigrants.
The battle will be joined in a matter of days.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky told Bloomberg on Wednesday that 'the hope is that we could file a bill Friday, in time for it to come to the floor Tuesday or so next week.'
Which bill that will be is anyone's guess.
'We're in the process of determining the best option on this right now,' Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told DailyMail.com on Wednesday.
Roby's spokesman believes her version could easily be incorporated into the looming Homeland Security budget bill.
It would prohibit the expenditure of any money to put Obama's policy changes into action.
'It's very straightforward,' Roby told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. 'It lays out specifically that no funds will be used for these things.'
She added that Republicans knew what they were doing when they teed up a Homeland Security showdown.
'We did that so that we could have this fight on the president's [immigration] overreach,' she said. 'I think that this prohibition language is the best way to do that.'
Rep. Poe's bill has the most momentum, however, with 21 co-sponsors signed on in just one day. (Roby's has none.)
The House Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the measure, nicknamed 'The Separation of Powers Act,' in the coming days.
It strips funding from effors 'to grant parole or deferred action to any alien other than for reasons permitted under current law' and 'to provide work permits or green cards to aliens who are currently unlawfully in the U.S.,' according to a press release.
'In his latest effort to completely rewrite our laws, the president has decided to grant amnesty and work permits to millions of foreign nationals,' Poe said.
'What this legislation would do, [it] would allow Congress to exercise its intended role, and "check" the out-of-control White House that has decided to simply pick and choose parts of the Constitution that they like.'
Tennessee Rep. Diane Black, the bill's leading co-sponsor, called Obama's immigration plan an 'end-run around Congress.'
'By cutting off funding for the President’s lawless overreach,' she said, 'we can send a clear message that – despite his illusions – the president cannot simply make up his own laws.'
Rep. Aderholt's bill would go further than the others, both telling DHS what it can't do and what it must do.
In addition to defunding the White House's unilateral plan, it would restore the Secure Communities immigration enforcement plan – a system that Obama killed in November.
Under Secure Communities, local law enforcement agencies shared fingerprints and other information on arrestees with federal immigration authorities, giving them a chance to start federal cases, often including deportation proceedings, against illegal immigrants.
Cities and counties, predominantly those dominated by Democratic politicians, revolted against the plan. Several declared themselves 'sanctuaries' and refused to honor so-called 'detainers' from Immigration and Customs Enforcement – orders to keep people locked up on immigration grounds past the time they would otherwise be released.
Aderholt's bill would also force state and local governments to begin complying.
It 'not only defunds the president’s actions towards amnesty but also removes the president’s discretion in the ability to grant work permits, Social Security, and other federal benefits that go along with his order,' the Alabama lawmaker said in a statement.
'My legislation will also put limits on the president’s future ability to enact such wide-reaching actions that circumvent the Constitution’s separation of powers. It returns the legislative authority of our government back to the legislative branch.'
'I hope that Mr. Obama understands that the American people spoke very loudly during the election in November,' Aderholt jabbed, 'and want a new direction away from his liberal policies.'
Rep. Marino's bill is the weakest of the five, limiting its impact to DHS funds that Congress has appropriated for the agency.
The White House has said it can implement the president's immigration executive actions without new funds, however, relying on fees charged to people who apply for green cards and work permits.
Rep Yoho's bill is the least likely to get a hearing: He was among the 25 conservative GOP lawmakers who revolted against House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday, refusing to vote for his re-election to House leadership.
The speaker's office has already begun retaliating against the cabal of right-wingers, dropping two of them from the influential House Rules Committee, which Boehner controls.