Government & Politics

GOP Still Stymied by Democrat Filibuster

House and Senate Republicans take the fight to each other.

Feb. 13, 2015

The Republican plan to roll back Barack Obama’s immigration actions appears on the verge of collapse thanks to intra-party squabbling and a united Democrat opposition.

GOP congressmen originally called for passing a budget for the Department of Homeland Security that stripped out funding for immigration enforcement. The House passed its version of the bill last month with 10 Republicans joining all but two Democrats in opposition. The legislation is now mired in the Senate, where the GOP has failed to reach cloture three times. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try again – perhaps three more times.

But there is virtually no possibility they can pick up the Democrat votes needed to overcome the filibuster before the Feb. 27 deadline for funding, and the Senate adjourned Thursday for a 10-day recess.

That’s why some House Republicans want the Senate to deploy the nuclear option and eliminate the filibuster so they can pass the bill. Not that such a move would win Obama’s signature. And few, if any, Senate Republicans support such a move, which they decried when Harry Reid did it for non-Supreme Court nominations.

Before calling for more cloture votes, McConnell began looking to House Speaker John Boehner to fix the situation. “We can’t get on it, we can’t offer amendments to it,” McConnell lamented. “And the next step is obviously up to the House.”

House Republicans see things differently. “I think the speaker’s position is that the House has already acted. It’s time for the Senate to act,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).

That’s putting it mildly. Boehner himself was far more colorful, saying, “The House has done its job. Why don’t you go ask the Senate Democrats when they are going to get off their a– and do something?”

The House GOP opposes restoring immigration funding to the bill. They appear motivated to challenge Obama’s abuse of power – as he clearly overstepped his constitutional authority when he made changes to immigration policy. Senate Republicans, however, are more interested in getting a DHS funding bill passed. Talk of considering some Democrat concessions has been circulating, but Democrats feel the wind at their backs and they’re likely to accept nothing less than a fully funded bill.

If appropriations run out, the DHS won’t be able to perform some of its functions – an unwelcome situation in a time of heightened terrorist activity. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said, “If there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown – we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans.’”

But what’s far more likely to happen is the Leftmedia and the public will blame Republicans. No matter the circumstances, no matter who’s in the majority, the Leftmedia does its job effectively in turning public opinion against the GOP.

Hence, the bickering going back and forth between House and Senate Republicans is unfortunate. To be at loggerheads on strategy this early into their majority doesn’t instill confidence in Republicans’ ability to lead. But the truth is, Obama will veto any bill that doesn’t preserve his amnesty. Republicans need to use that to their political advantage by putting the focus on Obama’s unconstitutional actions, even if they’re unable to stop him.

Inability to overcome the Democrat filibuster is something the 54 Senate Republicans will either have to get used to or find a strategy to surmount. They need to get things ironed out or their majority will be a short one. And the White House will grow further from reach as well.

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