The only person left who can stop the 1,603-page, $1.1 trillion Speaker John Boehner omnibus spending bill from getting to the floor for a vote is House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). If Sessions doesn’t kill the bill in the Rules Committee on Wednesday, the bill just may pass the House of Representatives.
For Sessions to do that, however, he’d need to very publicly and aggressively cross Boehner and House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)–something that would be largely unorthodox and very difficult to do, politically. Don’t expect Sessions to kill it, though: He’s a Boehner ally for a reason, and he’s likely to move the legislative sludge through the procedural sewer no questions asked.
Because his committee has enormous procedural and structural power over House floor debate structure, Sessions can blow the whole process up and keep the bill from reaching the floor of the House of Representatives or doom its prospects there during his committee’s expected markup of the bill on Wednesday–if he wanted to. That means every bit of the entire bill is on his shoulders at this point.
“I do expect the committee will meet tomorrow on the omnibus,” Sessions said late Tuesday, according to a tweet from C-SPAN’s Craig Caplan.
In a follow-up tweet, Caplan noted that the Rules Committee markup hearing begins at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and will be broadcast live on C-SPAN–a rarity since the committee is largely viewed as nothing more than a procedural hurdle for legislation that’s already cleared other committees to get floor instructions.
It’s rare that the largely secretive Rules Committee receives as much public scrutiny as it is getting right now. Part of the extra scrutiny is because of comments Sessions made last week while enabling a move by Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to quietly substantially alter a bill from Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) that was originally designed to serve as a cover vote for members against Obama’s executive amnesty.
Boehner and McCarthy had, as Breitbart News reported over the weekend, inserted an “exception” into Yoho’s bill that actually provides what some–including President Obama himself–could argue is legal justification for the president’s executive amnesty. During the Rules Committee markup for that bill, during which the secretive exception that fundamentally changed the outcome of the bill–taking it from being a “symbolic” bill against Obama’s amnesty to one that may actually provide some legal justifications for his amnesty–Sessions openly agreed with Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) on the need to have pro-amnesty immigration policy.
Sessions said that House Republicans “intend to push a bill” in the next Congress that would in effect create a legal open borders situation “that would operate under the activity of trying to do under rule of law.”
“What we would do in the House, move to the Senate, move to the President – and Mr. [Bob] Goodlatte [the Judiciary Committee chairman] is committed in his job to do the right thing and to work with the Administration,” Sessions said. “But that, even in our wildest dream, would not be to remove any person that might be here unless they were dangerous to this country and committed a crime; and we would not even – that was never even in a plan that I thought about.”
“I’m going to use my assets and resources in the new year to work with this Congress, including [Democratic Rep. Jared] Polis [of Colorado], to have a well understood agreement about what the law should be, and how we as communities, and farm communities, and tech communities create circumstances where we can have people be in this country and work, and where not one person is quote ‘thrown out’ or ‘deported;’ where we do keep families together, but what we do is we do so under a rule of law of an understanding,” Sessions continued.
Those comments–and the actions that they coincided with–drew some serious fire on Sessions from the conservative grassroots. His most recent primary challenger, Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson–who finished with 36 percent of the vote despite a drubbing from the liberal media–jumped on it. She told Breitbart News she’s considering running against Sessions again in 2016, something that she’d likely have a lot more success at as second-time candidate with more funding.
In an emailed statement on Tuesday night for this story in response to the revelation that Sessions is holding the Rules Committee hearing on Wednesday to facilitate Boehner’s omnibus getting to the floor of the House, Pierson hammered Sessions even harder.
“This is not surprising, and this exactly what we warned the voters about in the primary. Sessions has always supported amnesty, and this issue was the primary reason that I launched congressional campaign against him last fall,” Pierson said. “I announced just as he was about to use his authority as Rules Chairman to deem and pass the House version of the Gang of Eight legislation which we believe ended the discussion in 2013. Americans are not prepared for the economic impact of even lower wages and increasing devastation to social safety nets in already struggling communities that are directly impacted by illegal amnesty.”
Pierson added that Sessions should stop placing the needs of illegal aliens over the needs of Americans from his district in Texas.
“Illegal aliens don’t live among the elected elite, they crowd schools and hospitals in neighborhoods that are presently lacking the resources to care for citizens and legal residents along with their children,” Pierson said. “Pete Sessions now admittingly places the unlawful needs and desires of non citizens over those who elected him.”
If Sessions so much as does anything but out-and-out kill the omnibus in the Rules Committee on Wednesday afternoon, grassroots conservatives across his district–a very conservative, red district–are sure to be furious through 2016.