Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is backing up several other conservative senators in publicly calling on all House Republicans to band together to block funding for President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. He advocates using a strategy that will hurt the Democrats politically–rather than House Speaker John Boehner’s plan, which funds Obama’s amnesty.
“This November’s election was a referendum on executive amnesty, and the American people overwhelmingly oppose President Obama’s illegal amnesty,” Cruz said in a release on Wednesday. He also said:
Republicans in Congress should use every tool at our disposal–our constitutional checks and balances–to stop President Obama’s amnesty. The Senate should use its constitutional authority to halt confirmations for non-national security positions, until the President stops this illegal amnesty. And both Houses should use the power of the purse, which the Framers understood to be the most potent tool Congress has to rein in an out-of-control Executive.
Cruz went on to specifically back a detailed plan from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), which Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)–the incoming chairman of the Senate Budget Committee–and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) have both backed. Lee’s plan is to have the House Republicans block funding for Obama’s amnesty now, and then force Reid to either shut down the government or take up the House bill blocking the funding for Obama’s amnesty and try to pull that language out.
If Reid does have the votes to strip the language under Lee’s plan, the new Republican-controlled Congress can block the funding for Obama’s amnesty in early 2015. If Reid doesn’t have the votes, Obama can either veto the bill–as he has threatened to do–or sign it into law.
If Obama vetoes the bill, he will have, by himself, shut down the government in contravention of what several Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted for right before Christmas–something that would be a political disaster for a President still reeling from his party’s horrendous showing in the 2014 midterm elections.
“We should pass a short-term continuing resolution that includes language defunding the implementation of the President’s executive action on amnesty,” Cruz said in his statement.
Cruz argued the reason why all Republicans in the House should pursue this strategy, instead of Boehner’s efforts to work alongside Nancy Pelosi and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid–who has endorsed Boehner’s strategy–is because the Democrats cannot legitimately defend Obama’s executive amnesty. Boehner does not have the votes to pass his plan to fund Obama’s amnesty, and he may have to turn to Pelosi for help from her Democratic conference.
“Nearly a dozen Senate Democrats have publicly expressed concerns about President Obama’s executive amnesty,” Cruz said. “Support for the President’s lawlessness decreases by the day, and House Republicans should provide Senate Democrats the opportunity to show voters whether or not they have heard the message the voters sent in the 2014 elections.”
Cruz’s office provided a list of statements from 11 Senate Democrats expressing opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty. Instead of funding it and allowing the Democrats off the hook like Boehner wants to do, the plan from Lee would offer Republicans several opportunities to politically beat up the Democrats–and there’s no threat of a government shutdown, unless the President or Reid decide to do so.
“We are all frustrated with our broken immigration system, but the way forward is not unilateral action by the President,” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said. Landrieu is expected to lose to Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in the December 6 runoff election in Louisiana.
“I wish he wouldn’t do it,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) added.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said most people in her state are “uncomfortable” with Obama’s actions.
“I have to be honest: how this is coming about makes me uncomfortable, I think it probably makes most Missourians uncomfortable,” McCaskill said.
“I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the President shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own,” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) said.
“I don’t like government by executive order,” Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who just lost his election to Senator-elect Tom Cotton, added. “I just don’t, generally, so I’d have to look and see specifically what he’s proposing and what he’s talking about. … Overall, I don’t approve of that approach.”
“A big issue like immigration, the best way to get a comprehensive solution is to take this through the legislative process,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said.
“I think this is a congressional issue and I encourage Speaker [John] Boehner [R-OH] in the House to bring up a bill, to vote on a bill for immigration reform so that we can then put it into conference,” Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), who just lost her re-election bid to North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, said. “And I do support congressional action over executive action.”
“I’m disappointed the President decided to use executive action at this time on this issue, as it could poison any hope of compromise or bipartisanship in the new Senate before it has even started,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) said of Obama’s action.
“I have concerns about executive action,” Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) added.
“And I also frankly am concerned about the constitutional separation of powers,” Sen. Angus King (I-ME), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said. “The Framers knew what they were doing, and it doesn’t say if the president gets frustrated and Congress doesn’t act, he gets to do, you know, what he thinks is important for the country.”
“I would prefer that Congress act, yes,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-MN) said when he was asked if he supports Obama’s actions.
It is unclear whether those Democrats will actually vote in line with what they have said; actually voting to block Obama’s amnesty would be the logical next step for all 11 of those Democrats. But with the Democrats as weak as they are on this issue, it’s unclear why Boehner wants to help them by pushing a plan that even Reid can support–all while abandoning many conservative Republicans. As Sessions said in his statement on Wednesday, the pure political gains are massive for Republicans if they fight the Democrats here. Never mind the fact that policy-wise the right thing to do is block Obama’s amnesty funds.
“Polling shows voters believe that Americans should get preference for available jobs by almost a 10-1 margin,” Sessions said. “Republicans should not be timid or apologetic, but mount a bold defense of struggling Americans. Billions of dollars and countless hours have been spent advocating immigration policies that help everyone but the actual citizens of this country. Who will be their voice, if not us?”