A clearer picture of the strategy Republicans in both the House and the Senate will use to stop President Barack Obama’s planned executive amnesty in government funding bills is beginning to emerge.
The key point is that no matter what package emerges, there seems to be a consensus emerging among Republicans on Capitol Hill: There will be no funding for Obama’s planned executive amnesty. There’s a number of different ways that can happen.
First, there could be a short-term Continuing Resolution passed that funds all of government from Dec. 11—when current funding measures end—until shortly after the newly-elect Senate GOP majority takes office in early 2015. At that point, the Senate and House Republicans would block Obama’s planned immigration executive order in some fashion—either in a bill that funds all of the rest of government except for that or by splitting various Appropriations bills into different packages that separates funding the Department of Homeland Security out from the rest of government.
Another possibility is that there may be some kind of effort to cut the funding for Obama’s planned executive amnesty in the lame duck session of Congress now, but that effort would likely be thwarted as one of the last acts of outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“House members are looking for a way to stop executive amnesty while passing a partial omnibus that contains some appropriations bills already passed by the House,” a House GOP aide close to the negotiations told Breitbart News. “The approach would separate the agencies involved in executive amnesty from the rest of the government funding, perhaps through a short-term CR combined with an omnibus, or a ‘cromnibus’ as it’s been coined in recent days.”
In statements to Politico, both incoming Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and incoming Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) affirmed that is likely to be the pathway forward for Republicans.
“I think there is a growing momentum to the idea that Congress would be acting responsibly and modestly if it funds the government but simply bars the president from executing policies that Congress believes shouldn’t be executed by denying funding,” Sessions, one of the loudest and most aggressive proponents of Congress asserting its authority here, said.
“It seems to me the two options are to do a temporary CR, for everything and to revisit it at all early next year — or to do something longer term on everything other than” the DHS appropriations, Cornyn said. “But I know there will be controversy about that as well.”
One of the best parts of this strategy for Republicans is that they can have their cake and eat it too—have the government funding fight, and have no risk of a government shutdown at all.
As Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told NewsMax TV this week, the only person talking about a “shutdown” is Obama.
“For whatever reason, the president and his people want to push this idea that somehow a shutdown is on the horizon, that somehow Republicans in Congress want that,” Lee, the incoming chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, said. “That’s absolute nonsense. I think he knows that to be true. I don’t know anyone in either house of Congress that that’s what they want.”
There’s a number of reasons why, unlike the Obamacare defunding battle, this fight won’t likely lead to a government shutdown. First off, unlike Obamacare, executive amnesty is not the law. It’s a lot easier to make a case to block funding to use Congress’ power of the purse to stop an executive amnesty, and Lee said he expects many of the Democrats who have publicly opposed Obama’s planned executive amnesty will join in the effort to stop him.
Secondly, unlike Obamacare, amnesty is not implemented yet—and an effort to block funding would prevent the expenditure of taxpayer dollars being used to carry out a future action; in this case, the printing of executive amnesty documents like work permits, ID cards, and Social Security numbers for illegal aliens.
Thirdly and most importantly, with full control of both chambers of Congress, the GOP can push through appropriations bills or a partial Continuing Resolution that funds everything except for the Department of Homeland Security—separating that out for another fight. They can force Obama to sign those because otherwise he’d have a tough time defending not funding things like Obamacare or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the separate DHS Appropriations bill, they can block funding for Obama’s planned executive amnesty—and if Obama won’t sign it, the only part of government that would stop working are government bureaucrats who fall under DHS who are deemed unnecessary. The Secret Service would continue operating, as would the Border Patrol and the TSA, among others.
It will take just a bit of political maneuvering to get into that position, something that’s clearly already under way.
The biggest obstacle to congressional Republicans standing up to Obama’s planned executive amnesty has been Republican leadership in both chambers.
“Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and their top aides and deputies are mulling several options that would give Capitol Hill Republicans the opportunity to vent their frustration with what they view as an unconstitutional power grab by the White House — without jeopardizing the government financing bill,” Politico’s Jake Sherman and Manu Raju wrote late Monday.
One option GOP leaders are considering that the Politico writers described—“offering a separate piece of immigration legislation on the floor aimed at tightening border security and demanding the president enforce existing laws”—is unlikely to fly with Republicans in Congress since it won’t stick. Later in the story, the Politico writers quote Cornyn saying that won’t be acceptable.
“I think it’s got to be money focused because he could refuse to sign anything and everything we send him,” Cornyn said. “I think [a stand-alone bill] is problematic.”
The other options have potential to work out, and it remains to be seen what leadership will do. GOP leaders are likely to need prior buy-in on the strategy from Republicans like Sessions and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), as both have shown propensity to blow up legislative plans by Republicans when they don’t serve the interests of the American people.
Those other options include, according to Sherman and Raju, “promises to renew the effort next year when Republicans have larger numbers in both chambers, and passing two separate funding bills — a short-term bill with tight restrictions on immigration enforcement agencies, and another that would fund the rest of the government until the fall.”
“The leadership has not made any decisions, and is likely to weigh additional options, as well,” Sherman and Raju wrote. “The House does not expect to bounce between options on the floor — they will pick one, and stick with it, sources said.”
The biggest obstacle to stopping Obama has more specifically been House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY). Rogers has been leading the charge for a long-term omnibus funding bill that pays for all of government, including Obama’s amnesty plans, through the end of the 2015 fiscal year which concludes in September. Rogers wants to forfeit Congress’ power of the purse, and until this weekend there was no clear reason as to why.
A Breitbart News investigation published on Sunday gives some indication of Rogers’ motivation: a major campaign contributor of his, defense contractor General Dynamics, is seeking the contract to print the documents required by Obama to implement executive amnesty at a facility in Rogers’ congressional district in Corbin, Kentucky. The facility, which already prints immigration documents like green cards, IDs, and work permits for legal immigrants, would—if the federal government enlists it in the event of an executive amnesty—print the work permits, ID cards, and Social Security cards needed for Obama to grant the executive amnesty. Rogers and his team have not responded to multiple requests for comment for the several days leading up to the publication of the Breitbart News investigation and have not responded to requests for comment since.
Instead of responding to the report, Rogers wrote an op-ed published Monday afternoon for Roll Call in which he laid out his vision for a long-term omnibus—and made not mention of immigration whatsoever within it, despite that being the central theme of this fight.
In the piece, Rogers argues that Congress needs to return to passing individual appropriations bills, but “we have to first clear the decks on the leftover, current-year appropriations work.”
“We are now months behind in completing these annual bills, and the current temporary measure keeping the lights on in our government will expire on Dec. 11,” Rogers wrote.
Rogers’ efforts have fallen apart in recent days as Republicans—including Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus, Sens. Sessions, Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and many, many more—have stepped up to call for Congress to assert its power to block Obama’s amnesty. Now, Rogers doesn’t even have the full support of members of his own House Appropriations Committee, as a spokesman for committee member Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) told Breitbart News that his boss is working to develop a strategy to block Obama’s amnesty.
“Congressman Graves is working with House members to craft a plan to keep the government open and shut down the president’s executive amnesty,” John Donnelly, a spokesman for Graves, told Breitbart News.