One of the key immigration hawks in the House is signaling that changes to a border crisis package could find acquiescence from the right flank of the GOP conference, although he and like-minded colleagues are still looking to see a resolution accompany the package expressing protest against President Obama’s executive actions on amnesty.
Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told Breitbart News that he expects the legislation that House Speaker John Boehner’s border crisis working group, at the direction of its head Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), will introduce Tuesday will be a much subtler version of what Team Boehner was pushing a couple weeks ago.
The bill, he suspects, will be just a few hundred million dollars of supplemental appropriations for the administration in order to carry it until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, with no substantive changes in funding levels or policy.
“I don’t think there will be a lot of time to read it [before leadership brings it up for votes], but on the other hand, I don’t look for this bill to contain much,” Fleming said in a phone interview Monday evening.
“If the only spending we have to approve is just until the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30, then I just suspect it’s simply going to be a little bit of padding of cash to make sure that we don’t get to mid-August and the President says all of a sudden that the ‘country is now breaking down and I can’t enforce the border now because the House of Representatives didn’t do their job,'” Fleming said. “From the standpoint of leaving for the August recess, I do think it’s a smart thing to take off the table any claims the President may have that we have left the Department of Homeland Security high and dry, and HHS as well. I think that’s smart.”
Fleming’s idea, if that’s the direction House leadership takes–something he thinks they may get the votes for since it’s so far from what the president and Senate Democrats want, and something they probably won’t touch anyway–is to push Speaker Boehner and the other members of leadership to include in the final package a resolution he just introduced that would call for an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and stop any expansion of the president’s executive amnesty plans, changes to the 2008 anti-human trafficking law and for the deployment of the National Guard along the border.
“It’s a combination of the DACA and the 2008 law that’s created this problem, because obviously once word got back to Central America that this was working, that started the major tide–the tsunami, if you will–of humans across the border,” Fleming said of the key points of his resolution, which calls for an end to DACA and a block to any expansion of it to cut off incentives for illegal aliens to sneak into America, key fixes to the 2008 law so it can no longer be twisted by Obama to keep illegal aliens in America once they get here, and for the mobilization of the National Guard along the full border to stop the flow of illegal immigration into America.
Fleming’s move–a big-picture, strategic play–would allow Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the principal sponsors of legislation that would defund DACA and any attempts to expand it, the August recess and September to build the support they need among Republicans to take the fight directly to the President. Cruz already has key backers in the U.S. Senate, with people like Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) backing his play along with Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Blackburn has been even more successful on the House side, gaining key cosponsors like House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-AL) and committee chairmen, and many other influential GOP cosponsors.
“What I really think we should do, and what I hope to do tomorrow, is if the House leadership is saying ‘let’s at least give enough money, maybe a few hundred million dollars, to get us through the end of September, so we won’t be called back to Washington or called out’ then I would also want to add my resolution to that as well to send the message that we’re going to give you some money now and some time to think about it, but before we do anything significant in the way of funding, you’ve got to do these three things: which is to reverse the DACA decree, to pull back or re-evaluate the 2008 Wilberforce law and the way it’s being implemented, and to put adequate security on the border,” Fleming said. “You’ve got to do those things before we’re going to do anything significant on funding of that point.”
Fleming said he has not spoken with GOP leadership about this effort but suspects that Boehner does not have the votes to pass Granger’s original plan–so this would be an acceptable pathway forward that could bring Republicans together against Obama’s planned executive amnesty heading into the final months of the midterm election season.
“I haven’t talked to [leadership], but I can tell you I suspect they don’t have the votes to pass the original Granger bill because they’re already toning it down, and that tells me they have concern over whether they can even pass it,” Fleming said. “I watched Scalise’s interview on Sunday, and he was really non-committal that there would even be action. He hinted there would be some type of an approach, but he was not clear cut that there would be a bill on the floor and that it would pass. So I think that leadership wants us to come together on something, so they’re lowering the funding level and lowering the requirements, I think, to get enough votes to pass because they know that the Democrats are not going to support it.”
“What I intend to say is, ‘Fine, if you want to pull this down to a much lower level – and it’s just even spending – to get us through the remainder of the fiscal year that’s fine,” Fleming added. “But I think we should also have this resolution which speaks to the President and tells him that he’s also got to take action and do his part in this as well.”
Heading into the final months of the election season with this big fight over immigration, this is something that could–if senior members of the Republican Party finally drop pushing amnesty once and for all, and use it as the weapon it could be against Democrats–unite the GOP against the President and Senate Democrats on this issue for the last couple months of the year. Ex-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), for instance, a not-so-conservative Republican who’s now running in New Hampshire, has begun using immigration to great success in an advertisement slamming incumbent Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Overall, Fleming says, this issue could be a policy winner and political winner for the GOP if Republicans fight the left with it.
“I think Republicans all along have been misreading the polls,” Fleming said. “Right now, the President–his approval rating on immigration is in the 30s. He’s hurting, and that’s kind of why I made the comment that got quoted in a lot of places that it’s Obama’s nightmare and we’re jumping in the middle of it and making it our own. He’s hurting himself, and he’s hurting his party, doing what he’s doing. Even if you ask immigrants themselves, and Latinos themselves, they’ll tell you that it’s still important that we have border security and that we have a good legal process to immigrate to this country, and… I don’t think anybody in this country thinks that amnesty is the first thing that we should be doing. It should be an orderly process of immigration policy, one that makes sense, and border security. The President by his actions is showing that he wants anything but that, and now communities across this country are worried–even in blue states. They’re worried about these–and I’m not calling them children, because many of them are not children. Many of them are actually adults, and many of them are older children, teens, adolescents and many of them are coming to these communities, and they have to be taken care of. They don’t like that, and they don’t like the fact that they’re having to pay for it.”
The city of Bourne, Massachusetts–a Democratic stronghold–just unanimously voted to condemn efforts by the Obama administration and Gov. Deval Patrick to bring illegal aliens to their town, for example. Americans in other places that aren’t the most pro-Republican are rejecting the administration’s efforts as well, something Fleming says Republicans should grasp.
“Obama’s big problem with all of this is as these people seep into the communities, the communities are upset–they’re angry because they’re going to have to take care of them,” Fleming said. “That’s a politically bad position, so what he’s wanting is Congress to subsidize what he’s doing which is really to demolish and annihilate our border security on this. That’s why I’m pushing back on our leadership, to say if we start writing checks to the President… he’s not going to work with us in solving the problem–he’s just going to use his power maliciously to make it worse.”