Cue the GOP Immigration Disaster
Republicans just can't win.
It’s been less than 100 days since the Republican Party won Congress in the midterm elections. And in that time, it has garnered Barack Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline and a fight over immigration that could gridlock Congress for the rest of the legislative session.
On Feb. 27, the Department of Homeland Security will run out of money and partially shut down if Congress doesn’t reauthorize its budget. But Senate Democrats are blocking the vote because Republicans tied the issue to funding DHS, the department tasked with discharging Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions legalizing five million illegals – or as the administration now calls them, “Americans-in-waiting.”
Three times Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought forward a bill to fund DHS but defund Obama’s immigration policies. Three times Senate Democrats covered for their president, blocking even the consideration of the bill, in order to show how the GOP is frozen with infighting.
If DHS is funded fully as Democrats want, then Obama continues his executive reign unchecked. If the GOP stands its ground, Democrats will score a political victory, as DHS would shut down and the Leftmedia talkingheads would skewer the GOP for it. Obama’s plan was shrewd.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen took some of the peril out of the legislative process when he issued an injunction last week halting the implementation of Obama’s rulemaking. With the cost of failure high, Republicans no longer have to halt Obama through the legislative process.
Obama has sworn he’ll fight anything that undermines his polices. In an opinion piece he wrote for The Hill, he audaciously called the check on his abuse of power “partisan disagreement over my actions.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice appealed the court ruling, and DHS hinted it would make this partial shutdown as painful as possible. While government employees tasked with the security of this nation can’t leave their posts, they won’t get paid. No word yet on what Obama would shutter – White House tours and the World War II Memorial are not under DHS jurisdiction.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson warned that terrorists want to attack America – specifically mentioning Minnesota’s Mall of America. “I am not telling people to not go to the mall,” he said. “I think there needs to be an awareness. There needs to be vigilance.” Yes, the jihadi threat to America is real, but Johnson is helping Democrats turn the political screws: It sure would be terrible if anything were to happen to America when partisan Republicans are holding up DHS money.
But yet a broad coalition of people stand against Obama, his immigration policies and a clean DHS funding bill. While Obama has his executive branch and Democrat senators, the opposition consists of the majority of Congress, 26 states and a Texas judge.
Democrats have done all they can do until Feb. 27, so now it’s time for a Republican power play.
McConnell introduced legislation separating the congressional response to Obama’s executive amnesty from DHS funding. He told the Senate, “Some Democrats give the impression they want Congress to address the overreach. But when they vote, they always seem to have an excuse for supporting actions they once criticized. So I’m going to begin proceedings on targeted legislation that would only address the most recent overreach from November. It isn’t tied to DHS’ funding. It removes their excuse.”
By untying the two issues, McConnell hopes to pick off a few Democrat votes. That may work, but he’ll also probably lose a few from his own party – especially in the House. And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced he won’t agree to the bill he wants unless House Speaker John Boehner does too.
Again, because the judge in Texas temporarily blocked the implementation of Obama’s immigration decrees, the strategy can change. No longer is DHS funding a hill on which Republicans have to die. Republicans have two more years of rule. And then there’s 2016. What the party does in the next few months will demonstrate to the nation what a conservative president will look like in Congress.
Republicans have three days. Here’s what they should do:
Don’t own DHS failures. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is firmly Obama’s responsibility. Any mistake in that organization is a mistake that comes back to him. But if it’s defunded, it becomes a Republican problem. Let Obama’s problems be Obama’s problems.
Hang together. House Republicans want Obama’s immigration diktats defunded and his power grab curtailed. So do we. But McConnell is the prime minister of Congress and he has to deal with a strong Democrat resistance. He needs realistic compromise if Obama is going to be checked. Republicans need a unified front with a smart strategy, not a suicide mission. So far that hasn’t been the case.
Conservatives have already blocked Obama’s executive amnesty through the courts. But, unfortunately, congressional Republicans don’t have a good option for winning the DHS funding fight. And the longer they drag it out, the worse it becomes.