Before a federal judge in Texas ruled President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty unconstitutional—and ordered its implementation immediately halted—Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said such a ruling would mean Democrats must stop obstructing the passage of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill.
“I think it would have a huge impact,” Sessions told the Huffington Post last week about such a ruling. “I would think it would be further proof that the president overreached and shouldn’t be funded, and it would cause the Democrats to re-evaluate their obstruction.”
Other conservatives, like Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), echoed Sessions’ statement.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the Senate Democrats to actually allow our bill to move forward,” Huelskamp said last week. “There should be no concerns to them if the courts are saying this is not going to be implemented.”
On Monday night, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the federal district court in Brownsville, Texas, ruled that Obama’s executive amnesty is unconstitutional and issued an injunction immediately halting its implementation.
“The court finds that the government’s failure to secure the border has exacerbated illegal immigration into this country,” Hanen wrote in his opinion. “Further, the record supports the finding that this lack of enforcement, combined with the country’s high rate of illegal immigration, significantly drains the states’ resources.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised the ruling and the injunction, saying in a statement that Obama “abdicated his responsibility to uphold the United States Constitution when he attempted to circumvent the laws passed by Congress via executive fiat” and that Hanen’s ruling “rightly stops the President’s overreach in its tracks.”
Hanen’s ruling came in response to the lawsuit brought by Texas and originally joined by 16 states, a number that has since grown to include 26 states—more than half of the states in the union.
Senate Democrats have stood united in obstructing the House-passed DHS funding bill that blocks the use of any taxpayer money on the now-officially-ruled-unconstitutional Obama executive amnesty order. House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, have been pressuring the Senate Democrats to stop their blockade, and now, because of this ruling, they may be forced to.
“The House has acted. We’ve done our job. Senate Democrats are the ones putting us in this precarious position,” Boehner said on Fox News Sunday when asked about the potential of a DHS partial shutdown if no agreement is reached by Feb. 27, when current funding for the Department runs out.
“The only path forward on DHS is for the Senate to get on the bill,” Scalise added in a Breitbart News exclusive last week. “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 Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had called for the House to go to a “Plan B” after Democrats used a procedural motion to obstruct Congress, but has since rejoined House Republicans in demanding that the Senate Democrats stop blocking consideration of the House-passed bill. McConnell said in a statement last week
For two weeks now, Democrats have continued to filibuster funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Democrats are filibustering Homeland Security funding for one reason: to defend actions President Obama himself referred to as ‘unwise and unfair,’ and ‘ignoring the law.’ For two full weeks, Democrats have prevented the Senate from even considering legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Democrats won’t allow the Senate to even debate this funding. Democrats won’t allow the Senate to even consider amendments to this funding.
McConnell called on the Democrats to abandon their blockade because they’re engaged in “strained logic” that is “hard to follow”—and Democrats would be able to offer amendments if they stopped obstructing the bill. McConnell said:
We understand Democrats might be having a tough time kicking this years-long gridlock habit of theirs. But it’s about time they did. I’ve already offered a fair and open debate to them several times now. It’s a debate that would allow for amendments from both parties. That means amendments from Democrats too. If you want to make changes to the bill, colleagues, that is your chance. But to do so, you first need to end the weeks-long Democrat filibuster of Homeland Security funding. Get serious instead. Let the Senate fund the Department of Homeland Security.
Republicans in Congress have also unleashed some new tactics in attempting to break through the Democratic blockade of the DHS funding bill. For instance, Rep. Ryan Zinke—the at-large freshman Republican House member from Montana—is calling on his Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester to drop his opposition to the DHS bill.
“There are some things that are not negotiable,” Zinke said in an interview with Breitbart News last week, adding later that:
I would encourage my friend, my fellow legislator, Sen. Tester, to uphold his duty and to reject the president’s unlawful and unconstitutional actions. It isn’t just about immigration. It’s about the unconstitutional overreach of the president, to disregard Article I or Article II of our Constitution. The bill, I think it’s an appropriate bill. I would encourage Sen. Tester to pass the bill and uphold his duty. If the president wants to talk about immigration, then let’s talk about immigration. That means we’ll sit down with the president and go through reasonable immigration reform and probably negotiate out some of the amendments that were there, but you have to work it in the terms of the Constitution. I’m not going to blink.
Tester’s office has thus far ignored Zinke’s comments, and hasn’t responded to a Breitbart News request for comment on them—but Tester himself has come out in public opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty, a position that hasn’t been represented by his voting pattern in helping the liberal Democrats block the DHS bill votes.
Indiana Republicans united to unleash similar pressure on their Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly.
“As you know, DHS funding will expire in 15 days,” the Indiana GOP House delegation—Reps. Larry Bucshon, Marlin Stutzman, Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, Jackie Walorski, and Todd Young—wrote to Sen. Donnelly last week. “It is imperative that we work together to fund the critical functions at DHS to ensure Americans are safe at home and abroad. Our constituents and the American people demand action.”
In the letter, the GOP hoosiers wrote that they agree with Donnelly’s public opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty—and note that his role in helping Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid block the DHS bill votes is antithetical to his publicly stated position on the issue.
“Furthermore, we agree with your November 20, 2014 declaration that Congress has the sole authority to alter immigration law and that, ‘…the president shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own,’” they wrote to Donnelly. “President Obama made similar claims on 22 different occasions. Unfortunately, your three votes to prevent debate from proceeding last week cannot be reconciled with your previous statements or the president’s.”
Donnelly responded by attacking them in a public statement, according to a local news outlet, that accused his Republican colleagues of playing politics:
It appears my colleagues are more interested in pointing fingers than solving problems. They have refused to even consider a bill that would fix our broken immigration system. They have also failed to come up with a responsible plan to fund our Department of Homeland Security. Sending a letter is easy; working in a bipartisan way to actually solve problems is harder. I know because I was a part of the bipartisan effort in 2013 to pass an immigration reform bill and, today in the Senate, there is bipartisan support for a responsible plan to fund the Department of Homeland Security. If my colleagues are as interested in solving problems as they are in scoring political points, I suggest they do the hard work.
But now, with the federal court system coming down initially on the side of Republicans against Obama’s executive amnesty in an extraordinarily harsh manner—such an injunction that Hanen issued to stop the executive amnesty implementation immediately is not common—Republicans may have what they need to break Democrats like Donnelly, Tester and others away from Reid’s clutches once and for all.
“This should finally be the straw that breaks the Senate Democrats’ protective wall around Obama’s dictatorial amnesty and gets them to join Republicans in defunding it,” a GOP congressional aide told Breitbart News late Monday evening. “To fund amnesty now would be to fund Congress’ own demise.”
A second GOP aide, also reached late Monday, said that “now is the time to double down” and “Congress needs to seize the moment.”
It’s certainly going to be very difficult for Democrats to defend continuing to block the House bill now. The question becomes whether the Republicans stand strong, holding the line moving forward, or if they back down on fighting “tooth and nail”–in the words of Boehner–using all available options to degrade Obama’s executive amnesty.