House Speaker John Boehner’s planned response to President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty centers around adding immigration to a lawsuit against executive overreach criticized by conservative leaders as misguided, the Washington Post’s Bob Costa reported on Thursday evening.
“Boehner seriously considering expanding Obama lawsuit to include immigration, or filing separate lawsuit, depending on events,” Costa tweeted on Thursday as the Post published an article from him and Ed O’Keefe along these lines.
They wrote that the lawsuit option is something that “gained traction Thursday during talks among party leaders.” It would pivot Republicans—who just won the midterm congressional elections in a big way, taking over the U.S. Senate and adding to their House majority—toward using “the courts as an initial means of dissent,” while many Republicans want Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use the constitutionally allocated power of the purse to stop Obama.
As Costa and O’Keefe note in their piece, Obama doesn’t take Boehner’s lawsuit seriously. “I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something while they’re doing nothing,” Obama told ABC News earlier this year after Boehner’s first lawsuit—which didn’t contain anything about immigration—was filed. “The suit is a stunt.”
While Boehner hasn’t officially ruled out using Congress’ power of the purse to stop Obama, that he is looking at either a new lawsuit or expanding the previous one he filed earlier in the year is a sign this is the main pathway he is looking to pursue.
“Things are fluid, but Boehner wants to respond forcefully and quickly should the president act and believes a lawsuit would do that,” Costa tweeted adding in another tweet that the lawsuit is now at the “front of Boehner’s playbook” on executive amnesty.
Conservatives argue that Boehner’s newly-announced lawsuit strategy is a surrender in the wake of a resounding election victory by Republicans—and that it means Boehner won’t pursue using the constitutionally-delegated power of the purse that Congress has.
“If Boehner thought the lawsuit was such a good strategy, why didn’t he include immigration in the original litany of complaints against the administration?” Daniel Horowitz of The Conservative Review told Breitbart News. “In reality, this is a red herring to distract from the only potent check on Obama’s lawlessness—using the power of the purse to fund government sans the lawless programs. As Boehner clearly told his conference, he agrees with Obama on amnesty and has given him the green light to go ahead without any consequential opposition.”
Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA said it’s time for Boehner to stand up to Obama instead of running to the courts for cover.
“It is long past time for Congress to stand up and defend its constitutional powers to rein in this imperial president,” Jenks said. “Congress doesn’t need the courts. It needs to use its constitutional power of the purse to block funding for illegal power grabs like Obama’s planned amnesty. Millions of Americans gave Republicans this mandate on November 4. It’s time for Republicans to keep their campaign promises.”
By “campaign promises,” Jenks is referring to how Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus promised to use any and all means necessary—including the power of the purse—to stop Obama’s amnesty if voters delivered the U.S. Senate to Republicans. Priebus doubled down on that promise, saying he stands by it, in a post-election interview after voters held up their end of the bargain.
A letter Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is circulating calls for House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and that committee’s ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) to use the appropriations process to block Obama’s planned executive immigration action. Salmon has received more than 50 GOP members’ signatures and the effort is gaining traction among Republicans on both sides of Capitol Hill.
Rogers, however, seems to be opposed to doing what Salmon and the others are calling for. He said on Wednesday according to Roll Call that he thinks it’s in conservatives’ “best interest” to pass a long-term omnibus spending bill without language blocking funding for Obama’s immigration plans, something that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September 2015.
“I’m hopeful that [conservatives] will understand that this [passing an omnibus bill] is in their best interest to do it this way. If they don’t, they are going to throw away a lot of good things we’re working on which we have a chance to include in an omnibus that I think they would cherish,” Rogers said according to Roll Call’s Shawn Zeller. “To throw that away would be not wise.”
Incoming Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) says that an omnibus spending bill is not the way to proceed since it would mean outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—who voters just removed from power—would get to “bind” America into a long-term spending plan. Sens. Sessions, David Vitter (R-LA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), among others, are pushing for a short-term Continuing Resolution to fund the government until the new Senate GOP majority takes over and then block the funding of Obama’s executive amnesty.
Other top Republicans nationwide, like Indiana Gov. Mike Pence—a potential 2016 presidential candidate and former top House Republican before he left to run for governor—are urging House Republicans tho use the power of the purse as well.
“The power of the Congress is the power of the purse,” Pence said on Laura Ingraham’s nationally syndicated radio program on Thursday morning. “Whether it be blocking any executive amnesty, whether it be blocking the EPA’s efforts to continue to wage the war on coal, and President Obama announced a new chapter in the war on coal in his so-called deal with China yesterday, whether it’s defunding Obamacare. I certainly will be encouraging members of Congress from Indiana and beyond, use the power that the Congress has, which is the power of the purse, particularly in those areas where the president is threatening to use executive action.”
During meetings between the president and top congressional leaders on this matter after the election, Boehner told members on Capitol Hill on Thursday that he had begged Obama for another shot to pass an amnesty bill through Congress before Obama acted on his own. Boehner did tell members he told Obama—something Salmon confirmed when he appeared on Sean Hannity’s nationally syndicated radio program on Thursday afternoon—that he should conduct the executive amnesty if Boehner fails to pass it through Congress one last time.
“Mr. President, just give us one more chance to do this the right way. If we can’t, then do what you gotta do,” Boehner told members he told Obama.
Late Wednesday, Fox News reported on a 10-point plan from the Obama administration that would enact the executive amnesty in the next week or so—something the New York Times seemed to confirm on Thursday.
“The president’s plans were contained in a draft proposal from a U.S. government agency. The source said the plan could be announced as early as Nov. 21, though the date might slip a few days pending final White House approval,” Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson wrote, adding later in his piece that the plan “could allow upwards of 4.5 million illegal immigrant adults with U.S.-born children to stay, according to estimates.”
“President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan,” the New York Times’ Ashley Parker, Michael Shear, and Julia Preston wrote on Thursday, adding that it could give amnesty to 5 million illegal aliens or more.
Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry added on Thursday evening that Obama’s aides are advising him to wait until after Rogers’ planned omnibus—assuming that succeeds—passes Congress to announce the executive amnesty, since it’s one of the only vehicles through which Obama could really be stopped.
“I’m told some of the president’s advisers are saying ‘don’t blow up that budget deal by doing [these] immigration executive orders in the next few days,’” Henry said on Fox News’ Special Report, adding that some of those advisers are telling Obama: “Don’t do anything in the short term. Wait until mid-December [after the omnibus deal passes].”
Reid, the outgoing Senate Majority Leader, is one of those advising Obama to hold off until Republicans hand over their leverage with the omnibus bill.
“The president has said he’s going to do the executive action—the question is when he can do it. It’s up to him,” Reid told reporters on Thursday, according to the Huffington Post. “I’d like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it.”