Leaders of the GOP-led Congress that will be sworn in next month are facing a large question: whether or not to defund President Obama’s unilateral executive amnesty. But as 2015 dawns, it isn’t clear whether they’ll be willing to take up the fight.
During December’s lame duck session, Republicans surrendered by passing a 1,774-page, $1.1 trillion so-called “cromnibus” spending bill. That measure funds most of the federal government through September, and the Department of Homeland Security for the next two months. Conservatives wanted Republicans to attempt to roll back Obama’s amnesty by defunding DHS this month.
But the incoming, bicameral congressional GOP leadership team may be working out a plan to fund President Obama’s executive amnesty in totality through 2015 and even beyond, therefore enabling its implementation once and for all. While GOP leaders and their aides haven’t said on the record that they’re going to fund Obama’s amnesty, recent reporting indicates that’s a very real possibility despite a resounding midterm election where voters sent more Republicans to Washington, in large part, to push back against Obama’s power grabs.
“He’s consulting with his members and the Speaker on how best to proceed,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, told Breitbart News of his boss’s role in these matters—while explicitly not answering whether funding for executive amnesty would be blocked or not.
When asked if incoming Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn is planning to go along with whatever McConnell and Boehner develop, a Cornyn aide emailed that “members are still discussing the best way to proceed.” That aide adds: “Last week, Sen. McConnell said he is consulting with the Speaker and other members on how to best proceed.”
Aides to Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise haven’t yet responded to requests for comment about their plans—or the discussions that are ongoing between House and Senate GOP leaders. But a series of comments by GOP leaders, those close to leadership and various reports over the past few weeks during the cromnibus battle and even since that fight indicate that House and Senate leaders may look to avoid blocking funding for Obama’s amnesty in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill.
One of the details of the cromnibus package that convinced many Republicans to vote for it was the assumption that the new Congress would have more power to push back against Obama’s amnesty. And a Senate GOP leadership aide even told National Review’s Joel Gehrke that was the plan—to block executive amnesty funding in the DHS appropriations bill in February—before the cromnibus passed.
“A Senate leadership aide emphasized that they would be able to fight Obama’s orders using the appropriation process next year,” Gehrke wrote, quoting the Senate GOP leadership aide as saying: “we will be doing approps next year. Next year’s approps PLUS the DHS approps (we are only doing a CR on that department so that we can take up the immigration issue under Republican leadership).”
But congressional GOP leaders have shown little commitment to actually doing that. McConnell, for instance, in an interview with the Associated Press refused to commit to blocking Obama’s executive amnesty via the appropriations process.
“On immigration, McConnell stopped short of pledging that Congress would block Obama’s recent executive actions curbing deportations for millions of people who are in the United States illegally,” the Associated Press wrote of its interview with McConnell. “Republicans strongly oppose Obama’s move and are gearing up for a fight on the issue in February, when money runs out for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration matters. But the GOP’s options appear limited, and ‘exactly how the February episode unfolds I couldn’t tell you at this point,’ McConnell said.”
Boehner, for his part, was vague about his plans when he spoke to a closed-door meeting of House Republicans this month. “Everything is on the table. Maybe we do a funding limitation, maybe we attach a border security bill,” Boehner told the GOP conference, according to a House member who spoke with Gehrke.
The plan by GOP leaders to sell out and back up Obama’s executive amnesty is already coming together.
“Here’s the architecture of the coming sellout: there will be a show vote on defunding exec amnesty—either as a stand alone or part of the DHS bill,” a congressional GOP aide told Breitbart News:
But once they’ve let members vote on it, it will fall away. Instead, they’ll attach the McCaul “border securit”‘ bill—what we’ll call free rides for illegal aliens to a city near you. The McCaul bill will follow the Pete Sessions’ rule: no illegal aliens will be deported. No e-verify, no welfare stoppage, a free pass for the 12 million here to stay here. It will just be more money for King Obama to use to help illegals enter the country and get a free education. The White House will play along, pretend it’s a tough bill, and then eagerly sign it—locking in the amnesty and taking real enforcement off the table (they’ll say it’s all done now). Then will come the gifts for the corporate sponsors.
House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) laid out a potential first step of GOP leadership’s plans to enable Obama’s executive amnesty—the “show vote”—during a Rules Committee hearing about the cromnibus spending bill the night before the bill passed the House. Sessions specifically promised Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) that an amendment he was offering to the cromnibus that would have blocked funding for Obama’s executive amnesty would get a vote as stand alone legislation in January.
“I am pleased to tell you that the Rules Committee in the new Congress, in the first two weeks, before we go to our conference session where we all go off campus and we develop our plans for the year, we’re going to have a Rules Committee meeting, we’re going to bring back the Mulvaney amendment which I completely agree with, and we are going to be able to use the sustaining new members—the nine new members of the Senate—to where they can then judiciously take this act up and it will actually get a hearing, it will actually be talked about by them as a body as opposed to ignored or used as a weapon against anybody who is opposed to shutting down the government in the next day,” Sessions said.
“Mr. Mulvaney, I want you to know that regardless of what your argument is tonight, we’re going to accept the amendment by the second week of January,” Sessions added a moment later.
By saying the House will vote on the Mulvaney amendment in January—rather than in February, as an attachment to the DHS funding bill—what Sessions may have revealed is that the House leadership plans to spin the Mulvaney amendment off into stand alone legislation, essentially dooming its prospects of ever becoming law. That’s because even though the Senate would likely take it up and pass it as well, the president could veto it.
But Republicans could parry that, Mulvaney says, by attaching his amendment to must-pass legislation. “To the extent someone can make the argument that offering the language now will somehow act as a check against an imperial presidency, then I am happy to listen,” Mulvaney said in an email to Breitbart News. “That said, I am unsure how a stand-alone bill, or indeed anything that isn’t attached to must-pass legislation, would meet that standard.”
And in fact, Republicans have been successful in blocking funding for many of Obama’s initiatives. Even the cromnibus bill cuts off cash for a whopping 451 different things—including, as has been the case since Republicans were in the minority when Obama was first elected, funding for efforts by Obama to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
Later in that Rules Committee hearing, Sessions specifically said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy promised him the forthcoming show vote on the Mulvaney amendment as a stand alone bill.
“I will make sure and I have talked to the gentleman, the Majority Leader Mr. McCarthy, he came up to the office earlier today, I think Mr. Mulvaney walked in,” Sessions said. “We all support the Mulvaney amendment. The success of a rain dance has a lot to do with timing. We’re after this being successful. We’re not after fighting a fight that we’ll say after ‘boy we can’t go back to that.’ If something happened where the government got shut down as a result of this, because it was never going to be successful, then we might not come back to it.”
Republicans have also pitched the idea of attaching the so-called “border security” bill from House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) to any package. But the Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler reports GOP leadership is already planning to back away from that approach too.
Meckler quoted an anonymous “GOP committee aide” as saying “that a rollback of the executive action might initially be attached to the border bill but would have to eventually be stripped.” The anonymous aide added: “If the intent is to pass a bill I’d want this decoupled. Otherwise, it will be vetoed.”
Aides to McCaul’s committee haven’t responded to a request for comment on whether the House Homeland Security Committee chairman would personally back any DHS funding bill that provides resources to Obama for the executive amnesty.
But McCaul himself is quoted in the Wall Street Journal piece as supportive of the effort by leadership to enable Obama’s amnesty. “We want to set our own agenda on this,” McCaul said, adding that: “My bill passing, hopefully in the early part of next year, can lay the groundwork for other measures.”
McCaul’s aides told Meckler that “House leaders have asked him to have a border bill ready for action by late January or February.”
A third plank of the unilateral Republican surrender would be “gifts for the corporate sponsors.” Those are already in the works too, according to Meckler’s Wall Street Journal piece.
“Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) plans to introduce legislation making more visas available for high-tech workers, a spokesman said.” Meckler wrote after detailing efforts by others including Leader McCarthy and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) to introduce various immigration measures. “Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) is working on a bill revamping the agricultural visa program, based on provisions in last year’s Senate bill. Her staff is in talks on the measure with Republicans including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who helped work out a compromise on this issue in 2013. Both measures are priorities for industry—high-tech companies want access to more foreign programmers and engineers, while agriculture companies want changes to the farm worker program.”
Conservatives are furious at these forthcoming plans that could ensure the survival of Obama’s amnesty.
“While taxes and entitlement policy are important, they are not timely and no conservative reforms will ever be signed into law under Obama,” Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz said in an email. “Stopping Obama’s amnesty before it creates a permanent Democrat majority, on the other hand, is something that must be done now. We are in a constitutional crisis where a sitting president is allowed to remake our immigration system by executive fiat. It’s time for Republicans to stop yawning and start responding accordingly.”
George Rasley, the executive editor of Richard Viguerie’s ConservativeHQ, adds:
Looking at what the Republican Party’s Capitol Hill leaders did in the CRomnibus it’s hard for conservatives to figure out who’s worse: Obama or the GOP leaders who apparently plan to overturn the results of the 2014 midterms by allowing the president’s unconstitutional amnesty to stand and, adding insult to injury, passing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wishlist of more spending and more visas to displace American workers.