The number three lawmaker in House GOP leadership is stepping up to oppose President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, taking a major action sure to fire up conservatives.
House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) tells Breitbart News exclusively that he’s calling on Senate Democrats to stop their obstructionism and open debate on a House-passed bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its entirety — with the exception of President Obama’s executive amnesty.
“The only path forward on DHS is for the Senate to get on the bill,” Scalise said in a statement provided to Breitbart News.
It must go through the Senate to get to the president’s desk. If obstructionist Senate Democrats have an issue with the content of the bill, they will have time to address their concerns during open debate. As House Republicans, we did our job – we kept our promise to the American people that we would take action to stop the president’s executive overreach – now it’s time for the Senate to do theirs.
Senate Republicans need at least six Democrats to break ranks with Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada in order to get the House bill to the floor. The House passed its version almost a month ago. That bill blocks funding for Obama’s November 2014 executive amnesty for at least five million illegal aliens, blocks the 2012 executive amnesty for illegal alien DREAMers—the cause of last summer’s border crisis—and reverses other executive actions, including the so-called “Morton Memos.”
The near-unity of House Republicans—there were some dissenters on the amendments that got the defunding language into the bill—came on the heels of widespread infighting between the conservative wing of the GOP and the party leadership. That infighting had broken into full public view during the first House vote of the new Congress when 24 Republicans voted for a Republican alternative to Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) for Speaker (one extra Republican voted “present”) after three House Republicans announced their candidacies to challenge Boehner for the Speakership.
Ultimately the coup attempt fell short, but the damage was done—and conservatives remained furious at leadership as Boehner’s aides leaked stories about planned retaliation against the conservatives who voted their conscience on the speakership vote. Some retaliation has occurred, and leadership has attempted to revive eventual amnesty talk—especially through a border bill from House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) that’s been pushed by Speaker Boehner’s on-staff amnesty advocate Becky Tallent—but for the most part, leadership has seemed, overall, to work more with conservatives than against them since then.
While this isn’t the end-all-be-all solution to that infighting, Scalise’s clarion call to the Senate represents a major step in the conservative direction for the House GOP leadership in a way that the conservative movement is surely going to appreciate. Conservatives don’t hate GOP leadership; they just want Republican leaders to stand up and fight alongside them against the left and Democrats as hard as they possibly can. This move represents about as bold a call as Scalise can make during this battle, and that he’s keeping up the fight rather than capitulating to the thus-far-unified Senate Democrats is going to be at the least refreshing to conservatives—and at the most, a rallying cry that could unite Congressional Republicans on both sides of the Hill against the Democrats to create dissension on the other side. Creating dissension in the Democratic camp is necessary if Republicans are going to stop Obama’s executive amnesty.
Since they do need six Democrats in the Senate to vote for the motion to proceed to the bill, and to vote for cloture so the Senate can consider the legislation, Republicans need all the firepower they can get to break the other side.
It’s entirely possible that enough Democrats, if Republicans can turn up the heat, will break with their party’s leadership and vote for the motion to proceed and cloture—and potentially vote for the bill itself—since it funds the entire DHS except the executive amnesty that many of those Democrats themselves have said they oppose.
Democrats including Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Claire McCaskill (MO), Joe Manchin (WV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Jon Tester (MT), Al Franken (MN), Tom Carper (DE), Mark Warner (VA), Joe Donnelly (IN) and more have expressed public opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty. But not one of those Democrats has yet voted against the executive amnesty—and by continuing to block the motion to proceed to the bill, they are in effect offering their support for it.
This call from Scalise also represents the latest in a bitter dynamic between the two chambers of Congress. The dynamic that has mostly been dominated by Senate conservatives, such as Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) demanding House Republicans push conservative policies through that chamber. But now with Scalise, the House GOP leadership’s most conservative member, putting the same pressure on Senate Republicans—and Senate Democrats—it represents a shift in that relationship as now that shoe is on the other foot.
It remains to be seen what happens next, and conservatives are still hesitant to trust GOP leadership at all, but this could be the beginning of a united Republican Party against the leftist Democrats.