A belated pang of conscience among legislators about letting the executive seize their powers?
Or a pile of self-serving shinola being shoveled by vulnerable Democrats to ease voters’ fears of a new amnesty before November?
I know how I’m betting!
The resistance is coming from Democrats facing tough reelection bids this fall and other moderate voices in the party who say President Barack Obama shouldn’t use executive authority to ease deportations at any time. The pressure is a sign that Obama’s decision over the weekend to punt on making changes until after the election may have done little to ease the political furor over the issue.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who publicly urged Obama against executive action in July, said this week that she believes such a move is still wrong. When asked whether delaying executive action was not sufficient, Hagan responded: “I don’t think it should be by executive action.”…
Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he stands by his statements last week — made before the delay from the White House was announced — that any major executive action on immigration would be a “mistake,” no matter the timing.
Taking this position is a totally costless rhetorical exercise for Senate Dems whose seats are up. If Obama ignores them and goes ahead with his amnesty anyway, great. Their opposition will be long forgiven and forgotten by Democratic-leaning Latino voters by the time their seats are up again in 2020. Plus, no matter how Hagan et al. vote, there’s zero chance that Congress will be able to pass a bill repealing O’s amnesty and then come up with the two-thirds majorities needed to overturn Obama’s veto of that bill.
If Obama takes their advice and delays amnesty past this year, that’s okay too. In fact, some Republicans think that’s now part of the grand Democratic strategy:
“There are at least some Democrat leaders who don’t seem to want to resolve this issue. They’d rather have the issue politically going into, particularly, 2016,” said Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, the head of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm. “Some of their motivation is: Let’s keep this issue around.”
Is that what this is about? Delay, delay, delay — until the 2016 election cycle? If O decides not to do executive amnesty this winter, he’ll still have that card in his pocket, ready to be waved at Latino voters at an opportune moment before the next presidential election. Lots more bang for the political buck that way given that Latinos are unlikely to make a difference in most Senate races this November. If Republicans refuse to pass an amnesty ball next spring, Obama can announce executive amnesty next summer or winter and get Latinos even more excited about voting for Hillary. It’s a trap!
But wait — no it’s not. The issue will still be “alive” in 2016 even if O issues executive amnesty this fall. In fact, arguably it’ll be more alive then if he acts this year. If he orders amnesty this fall, Democrats can spend the next two years warning Latinos that all of the people who now have legal status thanks to O will see that status disappear in an instant if a Republican wins the White House. Statutes require congressional repeal but executive orders can be undone with one presidential pen stroke. The sooner O’s amnesty is in effect and the more people are relying on it, the more invested in it the affected members of the public will become and the sturdier it’ll be as policy. (See also ObamaCare.) Moreover, if Obama issues his order this fall, it might antagonize so many Republicans in the House that it’ll be impossible for Boehner to pass comprehensive immigration reform in time for the big GOP outreach effort to Latinos in 2016. That would also make things easier for Dems in the next election. If instead O keeps amnesty in his pocket through next year, Boehner might be able to cobble a bill together and that’ll steal a bit of credit for the GOP from Democrats before Hillary faces the voters.
So yeah, he’s definitely going to do it this fall — unless the GOP wins so big that even pro-amnesty Democrats suddenly grow terrified at a potential 2016 backlash. Vote accordingly.
Update: Like I was saying: “White House chief of staff Denis McDonough pledged to Latino lawmakers during a private meeting Thursday that President Barack Obama will take executive action on immigration before the holidays are over – an effort to soothe lawmakers furious about the administration’s move to hold off on action.”