Incoming Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is calling on Republicans to follow through on Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus’s commitment to do everything possible to block President Barack Obama’s planned executive amnesty.
“Before the election, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said: ‘We can’t allow it to happen and we won’t let it happen… I’m telling you, everything we can do to stop it we will,’” Sessions said in a statement provided exclusively to Breitbart News. “We must now follow through on that commitment.”
Currently, conservatives say congressional Republican leadership is considering breaking the promise Priebus made before the election. His promise was explicitly bold, and included the specific guarantee that if voters turned the Senate Republican—as they have now done—Republicans will do everything possible to stop Obama’s planned executive amnesty, including defunding it.
After calling Obama’s plans “illegal,” “unconstitutional” and “un-American,” Priebus vowed Republicans would stop him.
“While I can’t speak for the legislature, I’m very confident we will stop that,” Priebus said on a conference call with TheTeaParty.Net after an exclusive interview with Breitbart News a week before the election. “We will do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen: Defunding, going to court, injunction. You name it. It’s wrong. It’s illegal. And for so many reasons, and just the basic fabric of this country, we can’t allow it to happen and we won’t let it happen. I don’t know how to be any stronger than that. I’m telling you, everything we can do to stop it we will.”
Recent news reports indicate that House GOP leaders have been—since before the election—working on a long-term government funding deal with Senate Democratic leaders. The deal is still in the works but negotiators, are reportedly aiming to use it to fund the government through the rest of the 2015 fiscal year, meaning the end of September next year. There’s no guarantee whatsoever that the deal will include Priebus’s promise to defund executive amnesty plans.
“Republican leaders, too, are inclined to clear the legislative decks of must-pass bills so they can start fresh in January, when they will have control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in eight years,” the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe and Lori Montgomery wrote late last week. “House and Senate negotiators have been at work for weeks on a comprehensive bill to fund federal agencies through next September, and aides said they hope to bring the measure to a vote before the Dec. 11 deadline.”
Conservatives say they will accept one of two possible outcomes with the forthcoming government funding bill battle when it comes to that fight’s nexus with the immigration wars on Capitol Hill. Otherwise, they say, Republican leadership will have broken Priebus’s promise.
The first outcome conservatives consider acceptable would be a short-term, rather than a long-term omnibus-style, funding bill that carries the federal government into early 2015—and then allows the newly elected GOP Senate to set the parameters of government funding and spending in late January or early February. The second possible outcome conservatives say they’ll accept is if GOP leadership demands a long-term funding bill, it must contain the language that defunds President Barack Obama’s planned executive amnesty from the bill that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) got passed through the House of Representatives back before August recess.
“Republican Leadership, both House and Senate, is playing right into President Obama’s hands by even considering passing an omnibus bill to fund the government through September 30, 2015,” Rosemary Jenks, NumbersUSA’s director of government relations, told Breitbart News. “If Republicans truly intend to do what 74 percent of voters (according to the polling company, Inc.) want them to do, which is to stop Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty, they will pass a short-term Continuing Resolution through February, so they can come back next year and defund the amnesty. Otherwise, they are thumbing their noses at the voters who just handed them an overwhelming majority.”
“All Republicans ran on stopping Obama’s lawlessness and amnesty,” Daniel Horowitz of the newly launched Conservative Review added. “There is nowhere to run or hide from that mandate. They must use the current budget bill to defund any executive amnesty or pass a short-term bill into early next year, which would allow the new majority to hold Obama accountable. Passing a long-term bill without defund language would give Obama nine months to implement his harmful activities without any accountability.”
House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing told Breitbart News that the committee’s chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) is “currently in negotiations with the Senate on an Omnibus for FY15.”
“Decisions on specific policy provisions have not been made,” Hing said when asked if the bill will either be a short-term bill until early next year, or if it will contain the anti-executive amnesty language from the Cruz-Blackburn bill.
“No matter is off the table,” Hing added when pressed on the fact that RNC chairman Reince Priebus promised voters days before the election that Republicans would do everything possible—including defunding, as Rogers is now not certain he will do—to stop Obama’s planned executive amnesty if voters delivered the U.S. Senate majority to Republicans. “Negotiations are ongoing, and will continue for the next several weeks.”
Hing wouldn’t guarantee that Rogers would uphold Priebus’s promise by either doing a short-term funding bill that would allow the new Senate GOP majority to include the defunding language in a bill early next year, or including the defunding language in a long-term bill.
“I cannot speculate on the outcomes of negotiations that are ongoing,” she said when asked specifically if Rogers will uphold Priebus’s promise.
“Chairman Rogers believes that immigration policies should be set by the Congress through the appropriate legislative process by elected Representatives of the People,” Hing added—without confirming whether the chairman will use the power he has as Appropriations Committee chairman to ensure that that vision he has on immigration is followed.
Sessions said that it’s unthinkable that Republican leaders in Congress would be considering cutting a long term deal that doesn’t explicitly block Obama’s planned executive amnesty.
“The whole constitutional structure of America contemplates that Congress should fund programs that are worthy and not fund programs that are unworthy,” Sessions said. “It is unthinkable that Congress would allow taxpayer money to be spent on an unlawful amnesty that nullifies the immigration laws of the United States and the province of Congress to make those laws.”
Sessions added that Congress pulls purse strings to influence policy “all the time” and that Republican leaders considering not doing so is abandonment of one of Congress’ “most basic and routine” uses of power.
“President Obama’s executive amnesty will require him to order immigration officers to abandon their statutory enforcement duties in order to process millions of amnesty applications,” Sessions said. “These applications, like DACA, will confer illegal immigrants with work permits, social security numbers and photo ID’s at great expense. All Congress has to do is prohibit the expenditure of funds for this unlawful purpose. Congress does this all the time – it’s how we prevented the President from closing Guantanamo Bay. Controlling all spending is the most basic and routine application of Congressional power.”
Sessions said that if outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid decides to block a vote on such a matter in the Senate, Republicans can pass the short term option for now—then fight the battle in early 2015 rather than putting it off until September.
“If Leader Reid is able to block a vote in the Senate, then we can simply pass a shorter-term bill so our new majority can take office and pass a funding measure that includes the needed language,” Sessions said.
O’Keefe and Montgomery detailed in their article how the Democrats who just lost the Senate majority—but will have control for a few more weeks in the lame duck post-election session at the end of the year—are hoping for this strategy to succeed, because it benefits them.
“Before ceding full control of Congress to the GOP in January, Senate Democrats are planning to rush a host of critical measures to President Obama’s desk, including bills to revive dozens of expired tax breaks and avoid a government shutdown for another year,” they wrote. “Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is also aiming to chip away at a backlog of presidential nominations to the federal bench and the State Department over the next month, although Democratic aides say they will be unable to process all of the hundreds of pending appointments before turning the chamber over to Republicans.”
Sessions said Republicans shouldn’t aid the Democrats at all on this matter, especially since fighting the fight the way conservatives want to is a political win for the GOP.
“Finally: Republicans must be clear that what President Obama calls ‘immigration reform’ is no such thing,” Sessions said. “Reform must serve the interests of U.S. citizens – ending the lawlessness and establishing long-overdue immigration controls to boost domestic wages and employment. President Obama’s vision of ‘reform’ – eliminating immigration controls and flooding the market with low-cost labor – serves only the interests of the open borders lobby at citizens’ expense.”
Polling data compiled for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) by firm Paragon Insights shows that 71 percent of Americans are more likely to support a Republican for U.S. Senate if they know that that Republican will stand up for American workers against illegal aliens. Polling from Kelly Anne Conway’s the polling company, Inc., backs that point up, finding that post-midterm election that 75 percent of Americans reject executive amnesty and 80 percent believe that foreign workers shouldn’t be taking jobs from Americans.
Pretty much every vulnerable Democrat who survived the midterm election bloodbath offered strong public opposition to executive amnesty, too. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said during the final debate against former Sen. Scott Brown that she doesn’t “think the president should take any action on immigration.” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who survived the first round of Louisiana’s jungle primary and will face Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in the upcoming runoff in early December, said recently that “I do not support executive action.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who barely survived a surprisingly close challenge from establishment Republican Ed Gillespie—who ran in support of amnesty—said that “immigration reform needs to happen legislatively” and he was “troubled” by Obama’s plans.
Even Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), whose Republican challenger Mike McFadden lost by more than 10 points, said he has “concerns about executive action.”
“This is a job for Congress, and it’s time for the House to act,” Franken said.
Meanwhile, Obama and the Democrats are lining up with special interests—as the high tech industry is pushing him hard for executive immigration action—over the interests of the American people. All of this, and more, could set the GOP on a rocky path heading into the crucial 2016 presidential elections if congressional GOP leaders back down from what Sessions is calling for—a civil war theme that the New York Times’ Jeremy Peters picked up on in a feature article on Sunday.
“As most Republicans were taking a victory lap the morning after the elections, a group of conservatives huddled anxiously in a conference room not far from Capitol Hill and agreed that now is the time for confrontation, not compromise and conciliation,” Peters wrote. “Despite Republicans’ ascension to Senate control and an expanded House majority, many conservatives from the party’s activist wing fear that congressional leaders are already being too timid with President Obama.”