Obama Announcing His Unconstitutional AmnestyThe GOP House Leadership finally passed some immigration legislation that would be useful if it were actually designed to be implemented. Unfortunately, it’s simply a show for the rubes—the party Establishment has no intention of serious opposition to President Obama’s unilateral Amnesty/Immigration Surge.
But they have set themselves a trap by inadvertently exposing just how radical and unconstitutional Obama’s actions really are. And as the President moves to retake control of the legislative agenda with the upcoming State of the Union address, the GOP is going to have to give their voters something other than empty rhetoric if they want to have a chance in 2016.
The House voted to block funding for Obama’s unilateral amnesty and, in a narrow 218-209 vote, passed a repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) law that enabled Obama’s staged “Central American refugee crisis” [House passes bill to defund Obama’s immigration orders, by Rebecca Shabad and Cristina Marcos, The Hill, January 14, 2015] The Main Stream Media, (what the German protesters of Pegida have taken to calling the Lügenpresse, or “lying press”) immediately collapsed into effeminate hysteria, charging that the Republicans were just nasty bigots:
The problem with House Speaker John Boehner and his cohorts is more than political, it is moral: these are not good people. For them, when it comes to immigration, hate always comes first.Perhaps to preempt such nebulous charges of “hate,” Speaker John Boehner delivered an uncharacteristically powerful and widely-circulated speech which charged the President had, “on at least 22 occasions… said he does not have the authority to do what he did.” Boehner thundered that President Obama’s unilateral Amnesty/Immigration Surge was “an executive overreach…an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself” [‘Enough is enough!’: Boehner fills House chamber with high drama as he lashes out against Obama in high-stakes immigration battle—and throws his own words back in his face, by David Martosko, Daily Mail, January 14, 2015]
[The House vote to overturn President Obama’s immigration actions can hurt immigrants’ vital role on ‘Main Street,’ by Albor Ruz, New York Daily News. January 18, 2015]
Following this logic, the Republican reaction isn’t so much about immigration policy, but about the Executive branch knowingly usurping the power of the Legislature, thus violating the Constitution.
Of course, the inevitable question that follows such a tirade is "And what are you going to do about it?" The answer seems to be "Not much."
In the Senate for example, recently re-elected Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) helpfully noted that six additional Democrats would have to join the Republicans in order to pass the House’s immigration legislation and that Congressmen should not expect “miracles.” Even more depressing, his second-in-command John Cornyn, who survived a nominal primary challenge from an immigration hawk, is already signaling the legislation will be changed by amendment. [McConnell to House GOP: Don’t expect miracle on immigration, by Alexander Bolton and Scott Wong, The Hill, January 15, 2015]
A charitable observer might conclude that the Republicans did they best they could and are simply bowing to political reality. But in fact the Republican Establishment clearly wants the issue to go away. After all, McConnell’s guiding principle for the new Republican Congress is “don’t be scary” and his main policy objective is getting “measured conservative wins, particularly against environmental regulations.” [New Senate majority leader’s main goal for GOP: Don’t be scary, by Paul Kane, Washington Post, January 4, 2015]
This is the kind of beyond-parody battle cry that can only come from the brain trust of Conservatism Inc.
The GOP has options plenty of options even if it can’t muster 60 votes to specifically repeal Obama’s actions and DACA. One is a shutdown. After all, the rationale for the #CROmnibus bill was that the GOP needed to wait until the new Congress convened so that it could use its financial leverage over the Department of Homeland Security to force concessions.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work if the Republicans are completely unwilling to force a shutdown over the issue. They can’t even use the threat as a negotiating tactic because Senator John Thune already went ahead and promised that the GOP would not shut down the government over a DHS funding bill [John Thune: We’re not going to shut down Homeland Security in February over executive amnesty, by Allahpundit, Hot Air, January 5, 2015]. Republicans apparently don’t want to be seen as defunding the DHS, even though the President himself has all but destroyed the department.
As Daniel Horowitz pointed out (not at RedState anymore, naturally), another option would be for Republicans to fully fund “lawful activity at DHS, but not one red cent for violations of statues that never passed Congress.” The Republicans show no signs of doing this either.
Yet Horowitz notes Republicans have still another card to play.
[N]otice how McConnell and Cornyn never commit to Plan B advocated by conservatives: blocking all executive and judicial nominees until the order is rescinded. This is something that can be accomplished with just 51 Republicans and will not “risk” a shutdown of government agencies.As Horowitz says, McConnell and Cornyn refuse to put this option on the table.
[The Hershey Kiss for Obama’s Amnesty by Daniel Horowitz, Conservative Review, January 16, 2015]
Republicans are discussing their own border security bill introduced by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul. This legislation would ostensibly beef up border security and impose mandates on the Department of Homeland security to achieve “operational control” of the border.
But this would do nothing to reverse what Barack Obama has already done. Furthermore, Senate Republicans like Ron Johnson of Wisconsin are making ominous noises that border security bills have to be coupled with “reform [of] the nation’s immigration laws. [Michael McCaul to pitch border bill to Republican Study Committee, by Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett, Politico, January 16, 2015]
Bottom line: the GOP Leadership has maneuvered itself into a trap. As a party, they have made a strong case that Barack Obama superseded his authority. Yet the response thus far is simply sound and fury and the party seems incapable of agreeing on a common approach. And even pushing for greater border security will run smack into the Beltway Right’s desire to quietly legislate amnesty to satisfy the Cheap Labor Lobby.
What’s the solution? Ironically, the easiest response may be the one shunned as the most extreme—impeachment. After all, thanks to Speaker Boehner, the Republican Party’s leadership is now on record that the President of the United States has done nothing less than assault the Constitution. The party has to respond in order to retain any kind of credibility with its own voters.
The GOP may be divided on immigration, but impeachment over Obama’s lawlessness wouldn’t force the Republicans to have to adopt a unified immigration policy. It simply requires an acknowledgement that President Obama has, by his own admission as documented by Speaker Boehner, violated his oath of office.
But what if Republicans do nothing? Well, then we know they aren’t serious about either immigration or the rule of law. And it will be pretty hard to see why we should care if Republicans ever win an election again.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.