By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A prominent hardline conservative from Texas urged his fellow Republicans in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday to withhold funding from the Department of Homeland Security unless President Joe Biden takes a series of controversial steps involving U.S.-Mexico border policy.
Representative Chip Roy, a leading member of the House Freedom Caucus, laid out his demands in a letter to colleagues that called for the ouster of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and a $10 billion payment to compensate Texas for unilateral border actions by Governor Greg Abbott.
Roy’s demands, which are unlikely to be embraced by Biden or the Democratic-led Senate, could further complicate a spending challenge for Republicans in the House of Representatives, where infighting over government funding between party hardliners and centrists has stalled action on fiscal 2024 appropriations bills.
“No appropriation should fund DHS until the necessary steps are taken to secure the border,” Roy said in his letter.
Among Roy’s demands is enactment of a Republican border bill that would reinstate some policies of former President Donald Trump, greatly restrict access to asylum and give the Homeland Security secretary sweeping powers to block people who attempt to cross illegally.
“We have a moral obligation to protect our states, our nation, and, importantly, the migrant children getting abused from the disaster transpiring at our southern border,” Roy said. “No border security, no funding.”
Republicans hold a narrow 222-212 House majority, meaning that as few as five party members can block appropriations bills, which face strong Democratic opposition. Hardliners, who temporarily shuttered the House floor in a protest over spending earlier this year, have made border security a key priority while clamoring for the impeachment of Mayorkas.
Congress, which is currently in recess, could risk a government shutdown unless it can enact 12 fiscal 2024 appropriations bills by Sept. 30, when current funding for federal agencies is set to expire, or adopt a stopgap measure allowing government to remain open while lawmakers debate spending into the autumn and winter.
Roy also opposes a stopgap measure, known as a “continuing resolution,” which he said would allow current funding and policies to remain in place.
While House Republicans struggle to find consensus on spending, the Senate is expected to begin voting on bipartisan appropriations bills when lawmakers return to Washington in next month.
(Reporting by David Morgan in Washington; Additional reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)