In the fight against Obama’s amnesty, the GOP has no good options… for now

posted at 12:41 pm on December 4, 2014 by Noah Rothman

With the 113th Congress coming to a close, Republicans in the legislature are in a bind. Most genuinely want to exert as much pressure as possible on the president for his unilateral pursuit of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants via executive order, but lack viable options to roll back this action short of a path that could lead to a government shutdown. Far too many conservatives think that shutdown brinkmanship is exactly what the lame duck Congress should be pursuing.

The strategy Republicans have settled on is essentially to punt the issue of Obama’s immigration actions into the next year, when the GOP will dominate both chambers of Congress. In the interim, House leadership is supporting a bill pushed by conservative Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) that would prevent deferring the deportation of illegal immigrants. Conservatives in both Congress and the grassroots, however, see the vote on this toothless measure as nothing more than an effort to placate the right. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said the maneuver was nothing more than a “meaningless show vote.” He’s not wrong, though he and others must now contend with the fact that the president has threatened to veto even this relatively symbolic measure.

The second stage of this strategy is a funding fight rooted in a strategy concocted by another conservative, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). The dubiously named “Cromnibus,” which is a hybrid continuing resolution and omnibus spending bill, would fund the government through September 2015 while only funding the Department of Homeland Security, the agency which will implement Obama’s executive actions on immigration, until next February.

The White House, which would surely prefer to be able to sign a bill that funds the entire government, is not threatening to veto this plan. “The White House isn’t ruling out the House Republicans’ government funding plan, removing a potential barrier to resolving a fight over funding the government before it runs out of money in eight days,” Politico reported on Wednesday. “The Obama administration wants full funding of the entire government through September, a position White House press secretary Josh Earnest detailed this week. But privately, administration officials view the House proposal as a fallback — as long as Republicans don’t insert legislative language known as riders that restrict Obama’s ability to implement the immigration plan.”

Conservatives who are already mistrustful of Republican leadership in Washington are understandably frustrated with this strategy. They see as a capitulation in the face of a genuine overreach by the executive. They are not without evidence when they express the fear that the GOP will never mount an effective pushback on the administration’s dangerous intemperance, and that they would like nothing more than for conservatives urging stronger action to simply go away. At this stage, however, conservatives must also confront the reality that an effort to de-fund the implementation of Obama’s immigration order before the next Congress is sworn in would be disastrous.

At a rally on the steps of the Capitol Building on Wednesday, Cruz joined Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) demanding that Congress should de-fund DHS. “This is a choice between truth and mendacity,” Cruz said of his Republican colleagues whom he noted promised their constituents during the 2014 campaign they would pursue every avenue available to halt the implementation of Obama’s executive actions.

Sound familiar? “I will not vote for a continuing resolution unless it de-funds Obamacare,” Cruz insisted in 2013. He got his wish, and the government shuttered. Within weeks, Republicans saw their party’s favorability rating drop to historic lows. Were it not for the fact that the Affordable Care Act’s implementation was so catastrophically mismanaged, those low ratings might have stayed there.

Would the same thing happen again? It is entirely possible. Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will love nothing more than to be able to exercise his authority one final time if he receives a funding measure which seeks to de-fund portions of DHS. The only thing that may resuscitate the favorability ratings of Obama’s deeply unpopular executive order is if he is handed the gift of a government shutdown that would make his order seem popular by comparison.

Republicans who think shutting down the government just days before Christmas might recall that they’ve seen this movie before in 1995 – 1996. A recent CNN/ORC poll shows that the vast majority of the public would view a new shut down for a period of days or weeks as an eventuality that would cause “major problems” or represent a “crisis.” A slimmer majority of respondents, but still a majority, would blame Republicans for a new shutdown while just one-third would blame Obama for this suboptimal condition.

And just for fun, what would happen if Republicans were the beneficiaries of a Christmas Miracle and Democrats including the president did agree to de-fund the implementation of Obama’s executive action before 2015? Probably nothing. The vast majority of DHS employees are deemed essential personnel due to their national security roles, so the de-funding of all or part of that agency would have little short-term effect. Even a more targeted approach, de-funding only the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, would likely be ill-fated. Even though the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service observed it is possible for the House to pursue this measure, it would have next to no impact on an agency that is funded primarily through the imposition of fees.

“In no way does the CRS report contradict anything that we’ve said. It would take an act of Congress to change the underlying statute to restrict the use of fees,” said an aide to the House Appropriations Committee told The Hill, the chairman of which warned weeks ago that the agency could not be shut down via de-funding efforts. “To restrict the fees, a law would have to be passed, which means a presidential signature. Barring that, the agency can continue to collect and use fees without an annual appropriation, meaning that in the event of a government shutdown, the agency would continue to operate, while other functions of government close.”

So Republicans who want to see a de-funding effort, come hell or a government shutdown, are faced with the likely prospect of repeating recent history. For those who insist that this time will be different, what evidence can they present in defense of that claim? Would a political press that has refused to cover Jonathan Gruber’s remarks, a Democratic aide convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault, an Obama bundler charged with child molestation, and Obama’s close associate accused by the Department of Justice of protecting someone charged with defrauding taxpayers (all in the space of just one month) while simultaneously flooding the zone with coverage of an obscure GOP staffer’s Facebook post suddenly warm to the GOP amid a new shutdown? This is simply fanciful.

Those conservatives who suggest that the Republican Party is surrendering in the face of adversity are missing the bigger picture. Republicans will be on more favorable terrain in the 114th Congress when they will enjoy majorities in Congress larger than at any point since the Truman administration. Putting this crucial fight over Obama’s overreach off until the GOP is better positioned is not surrender, it is strategy. Those conservatives who demand that Republican leadership die on every hill upon which they currently stand are advocating for a Pickett’s Charge.

The shutdown experiment was tried. It failed, and those who point to the party’s successes in the midterms as a counterargument cannot account for the fact that it won’t be a midterm electorate that heads to the polls in 2016. It’s time to let the more farsighted tacticians within the party take the reins.

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Hotair has some increasingly lousy writers. I think Noah is probably the worst of the lot. This argument is gibberish.

We are 18 freaking trillion dollars in debt. Is there ever going to be a spending decrease that Noah would deem acceptable? Is there no program that could be trimmed?

Why not start with programs that are wildly unpopular like Amnesty or Obamacare. The media will hate it, but the voters will reward it.

kpguru on December 4, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Noah you are a terrible political pundit. You have zero ability to see the big picture and are stuck inside the DC media spin box.

Meat Fighter on December 4, 2014 at 3:05 PM

The simple fact is that it was the Democrats who shut down the government in order to save the ACA – and the Republican establishment which entirely failed to make this point, or even try to.

If you won’t fight, you will lose. That doesn’t mean a loss is inevitable.

PersonFromPorlock on December 4, 2014 at 3:27 PM

The rider on CIS is the act of Congress–so,what’s the big deal?

Obama’s going to sell shutting down the government to protect diespised illegals? I don’t think so.

And if he did, then just which party would be crippled heading into 2016?

I think Sessions has no choice but to,elevate a legitimate opposition to Ovama, rather than the Boehner kabuki, by declaring a presidential run.

bildung on December 4, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Fun times ahead!!!

Bring back the barrycades!
No more recreatin’ either!!!

dentarthurdent on December 4, 2014 at 3:33 PM

The only thing that may resuscitate the favorability ratings of Obama’s deeply unpopular executive order is if he is handed the gift of a government shutdown that would make his order seem popular by comparison.

And by God you quislings on the right are going to damn well do your best to make sure that’s the case, aren’t you?

xblade on December 4, 2014 at 3:58 PM

The simple fact is that it was the Democrats who shut down the government in order to save the ACA – and the Republican establishment which entirely failed to make this point, or even try to.


Well, to be fair, they were too busy running around telling anyone who would listen that it was their fault for shutting down the government, so they didn’t have time to blame the democrats.

xblade on December 4, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Liberal HotAir blogger Noah Rothman supports illegal alien amnesty. Rothman is no consevative. His “there’s’ nothing you can do to stop amnesty” argument should come as no surprise.

Yes, I agree with others who say that HotAir isn’t what it once was and has really gone downhill. Michelle Malkin is sorely missed.

Here’s pro-amnesty Noah Rothman on Twitter, where he has previously badmouthed HotAir readers and praised articles claiming “racism” is prevalent in the HotAir comment section:

Tom Benson [email protected]: Find me conservatives who are pro-amnesty, pro-separation of church and state, pro-gay-marriage, and pro-choice.
11:34 AM – 19 Jun 2014

Noah Rothman [email protected]: I’m all of the above… Reform w citizenship path, yes
11:44 AM – 19 Jun 2014

bluegill on December 4, 2014 at 4:14 PM

The fact is NOAH could not find the word Conservative let alone what spell it. He is a pathetic little Establishment Bottom Boy that has not one clue. HotAir is and has always been Liberal except when Michelle was here. The latest dribble like this loser and clown is the problem with the GOP in general. This bend over boy uses CNN….a pollster with less than 50 percent accuracy to bolster his pathetic and weak argument. Ted Cruz is 20 times the man you will ever be NOAH and not one person in a million would care or know who you are. It was the SHUTDOWN that highlighted the problems with OFRAUDCARE and it was because of this the GOP carried the midterms. Nothing that a bend over Establishment Boy like you or that spineless alcoholic Boehner had anything to do with the Midterms. Lets see GO TO EVER GOP SENATOR THAT WON and look at their platforms…every single one RAN TO OVERTURN OFRAUDCARE AND FIGHT AMNESTY….funny hey bend over boy??? Crickets clown?

No we have to face that Reid has one more month and the scary Govt Shutdown…for who bend over boy? A bunch of Government Scum that would be out of jobs for a spell….awe poor babies. RUBBISH…you stand for PRINCIPLE not this take what the DEMS give you and be good little ELEPHANTS and please the CHAMBER OF EMPLOYEE EXPLOITATION and CHEAP LABOR who really controls the GOP Establishment SCUM and wants AMNESTY. I want NOAH’s Job replaced by an Illegal it would teach this nothing a lesson. He sits acting like he is some Congressional Expert while he lives in his delusional DC Corrupt Bubble. He worships Government, Bends Over for Establishment like he is told and carries that same DIATRIBE as always.

He is 120 percent wrong. Principle matters and standing up for the people that VOTED FOR YOU MATTERS. There is no reason to give OFraud funding through Sept 2015 and Mar 2015. You give him one month when as you state bend over boy that the GOP takes over. TO say we need smarter tactics and people is pathetic from a bend over boy like you. YOU do what you are told and then try to cover it up with bogus polls from CNN or cheap shots at real men like Cruz or Sessions who represent people that live in America not DC Cronies like yourself. You fear Cruz like most Establishment Scum because he knows power away from DC and K Street scares lifetime DC wannabees like you.

You give OFraud nothing. He broke the LAW….THAT MATTERS and the US CONSTITUTION….that bend over boy is more than enough to NOT FUND this Imperial Dictator. But the truth is people like you and your Masters in the GOP Leadership want Amnesty for Cheap Labor…you do not give one red cent about real Americans nor the people that vote to keep you in power. You disrespect us so you deserve no respect. The GOP is only in power when Conservatives vote when they do not 2008 and 2012 happen and will again.

Never trust anyone that blogs that tells you Conservatives do not understand which means you are only needed to vote us for power WE WANT POWER, WE WANT CHEAP LABOR and HOW DARE YOU DEMAND US TO DO WHAT WE SAID….that is why Noah will be nothing more than a lapdog for his liberal masters!

777eagleofthesky on December 4, 2014 at 4:19 PM

They see as a capitulation in the face of a genuine overreach by the executive.

Have you no pride in your work?

It’s time to let the more farsighted tacticians within the party take the reins.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Oh, man, that was hilarious. I know it wasn’t intended to be, but that’s by far the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

novaculus on December 4, 2014 at 4:30 PM

novaculus on December 4, 2014 at 4:30 PM

HotAir® may be headed for a shutdown itself. Folks are in fact leaving.

Bmore on December 4, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Bmore on December 4, 2014 at 4:44 PM

People came and go, although more may be leaving now as whoever is calling the shots here seems determined to move away from conservatism to a position slightly right of center and largely supportive of the Republican RINO establishment. I don’t think they really care much about the commentariat. In fact, I think they find us and the whole comments setup more nuisance than anything else. Unique clicks pay the bills. If they keep getting hits, they won’t care if 99% of the regular commenters leave. In fact, I think they would be relieved.

novaculus on December 4, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Cruz should know about ‘meaningless shows’ since that describes his Senate career to a tee.

He has built no coalitions, forced no votes, blocked no bills and passed no reforms. Doesn’t even attend the caucus meetings, so has no influence in his own party.

But if you need some meaningless grandstanding and showboating guaranteed to gather spotlights and headlines, he’s your boy.


Of course, even the Pied Piper could get the naive children and rats to follow him.

Adjoran on December 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM

The simple fact is that it was the Democrats who shut down the government in order to save the ACA
PersonFromPorlock on December 4, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Uh-huh, that’s why conservatives were digitally chanting “let it burn” all over the internet…

Can you not even recognize that EVERYONE else knows the right shut down the government by trying to take the ACA hostage? Really?

Tlaloc on December 4, 2014 at 6:32 PM

novaculus on December 4, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Yep. Agreed.

Bmore on December 4, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Noah, regarding defunding the USCIS, you are wrong and the Appropriations Chair (whom I suspect is acting on Boehner’s behalf) is wrong too.

When fees are collected, like taxes, they become part of monies in the US Treasury – and the Constitution (Art. 1, Sect. 9, Clause 7), is clear that the Congress, who makes the laws, controls all monies drawn from the Treasury.

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; …”

US Constitutuion. Article I, Section 9, Clause 7

Spending by the USCIS has to be appropriated by Congress. Even if an appropriation is permanent and ongoing, that will not cover this matter as the monies *cannot* be spent on things not specified in that appropriation, that is that are not “in consequence” of the law…

Obama has reportedly already acquired office space and is hiring 1000 agents to process the flood of foreign nationals. Funds to do that was not appropriated by Congress…

Further, there is no way that such spending can be justified under the auspice of “prosecutorial discretion” that Obama cited as justifying his EO anyway – and Boehner, the SOB, knows it…

DrDeano on December 4, 2014 at 8:20 PM

It’s not worth the effort. We should push the Congress to reform legal immigration and legal work visas, such as H1B. When a Republican wins back the presidency, the EO can be reversed, the fortified fence finished, etc. Another Picketts Charge will end the same way – in defeat.

Supposedly, a gigantic effort will be made to defeat a policy, and then, the results are – the illegals are still here afterwards! All that political capital for literally nothing. Come on, solve some problems and quit hiding behind your supposed concern over Obama’s EO, which is just a short term policy change that doesn’t change the law.

cimbri on December 4, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Uh-huh, that’s why conservatives were digitally chanting “let it burn” all over the internet…

Can you not even recognize that EVERYONE else knows the right shut down the government by trying to take the ACA hostage? Really?

Tlaloc on December 4, 2014 at 6:32 PM

My goodness, the Republicans must have gotten killed in the 2014 election then.

Wait a minute……

itsspideyman on December 4, 2014 at 10:08 PM

The USA was founded on the Rule of Law. Equality under the LAW. Does it always work? No.

But amnesty is a violation of the law. Thus, the counter to the wusses is, Amnesty is against the law. That’s it – nothing else. Say it, again and again and again and again.

If you want something extra, this amnesty would be UNFAIR to those who came here legally. It’s not hard – it just takes a bit of unity and backbone.

MN J on December 5, 2014 at 1:02 AM

Who cares?
It is the holiday season and the Government is going to be pretty much shut down anyway.
Obama will bring out the National Guard to keep us out of the parks… so what.
Don’t pass a single thing. Not even a CR.
And start out with a clean slate next year.
Then, when we get back, do a line item budget.
Everything to stand on it’s own merit.
The way it was meant to be.
Yeah, about 50,000 spending bills.
Obama would have to sign every one, or sign the veto on every one.
Hey, he has a pen.
And if he doesn’t like it, he can call somebody who cares.

Snowshooze on December 5, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Tom Cotton: Break the Capitol Phone Switchboard to Fight Obama’s Amnesty
By Joel Gehrke
December 5, 2014 4:02 PM

Senator-elect Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) tried to jumpstart a phone-banking campaign against the funding measure that House leadership is expected put on the floor next week, saying that lawmakers might change course of voters break the Capitol switchboard.

“In 2007, there were reports that the Capitol switch board actually stopped working because so many people called, and asked their senators and congressmen to stop an amnesty bill going through at the time, and it stopped,” Cotton told Laura Ingraham on Friday. ”And it helped in 2013 when the House was on the verge of considering something like the Gang of Eight bill in the Senate, so I would encourage you to call your senator, call your congressman next week and in the new year.”

Cotton wants the House to pass a bill in the lame-duck session that bars President Obama from using any federal funding to implement his recent executive orders on immigration.

“Congress needs to take action using the strongest power that we have which is the spending power under the Constitution to stop President Obama’s unlawful amnesty decree,” Cotton said. “Pass a short-term funding measure, try to defund these measures now, put the Senate Democrats on record, and then simply fund the government in the new year . . . then we can take action to defund the specific executive overreaches.”

That is, effectively, the alternative that Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) outlined earlier this week and that Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), and Senator David Vitter (R., La.) want the House to pass.

The House is expected to pass a CRomnibus bill that funds most executive departments for a year but leaves the Department of Homeland Security on a short-term continuing resolution, but Cotton dislikes that idea because it would limit congressional power to withhold funding for executive overreaches unrelated to immigration.
Cotton suggested that that leadership might change their minds if they get enough phone calls from voters. “I assure you having been in the Congress that congressman and senators listen when the people they serve, their bosses, are calling them and asking them to vote in a certain way. I can assure you, and it’s been the case on immigration before,” he said.

V7_Sport on December 5, 2014 at 9:08 PM