That’s what Ted Cruz wanted and that’s what that huddle last night with House conservatives was all about. It’s silly to hand Obama half a billion dollars to deal with illegal immigrant children at the border without addressing one of the incentives that’s drawing them here to begin with.
Wait a minute, though. Is this really what Cruz wanted?
On Wednesday evening, House GOP leadership was setting up a process that would schedule a Thursday vote on the Republican funding package. If it passes, the House would be required to vote on legislation targeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded from deportation hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who have grown up in the United States.
The House GOP language would block President Barack Obama from expanding DACA and prevent him from granting a similar reprieve to other immigrants here illegally. The administration is actively considering executive action on deportations, and a final decision is expected by the end of the summer…
[A]ny measures rolling back DACA will be dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate. When asked for a response to the House GOP decision to add DACA into the mix, Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), replied: “Speaker Cruz is in the house.”
Time is of the essence. The House will leave town Thursday afternoon for a month-long August recess.
In other words, Boehner is using Cruz’s bill as a lure to get House conservatives to vote for his own bill first, as he knows he can’t get to 218 on that one without them. So what’ll probably happen — unless tea partiers balk — is that Boehner’s bill will pass and then we’ll have a tight vote on Cruz’s “limit DACA” bill. Will that one pass too, even though it’s DOA in the Senate, or will a bunch of centrist Republicans peel off and vote no for fear of being seen as “anti-children” or whatever if they vote yes? That’s a tough vote for Republican amnesty fans, but then that’s why Cruz et al. are pushing the bill. If it fails, they can cite it as evidence that the RINOs are still in charge in the House, especially on immigration. If it passes, Cruz has a feather in his cap, having gotten Boehner to add his anti-DACA amendment to the House’s offer to the Senate.
If it passes the House, Cruz’s bill could also be useful as a talking point later when Obama finally expands DACA and issues his mass amnesty for adult illegals. His excuse will be that he had to act on immigration because Congress refused; we didn’t refuse, Boehner could say, we explicitly said that you’re barred from amnestizing any more illegals. Obama will laugh that off as “hatin'” and say that a House bill doesn’t mean anything unless the Senate agrees to it, but having a bill on record demanding that the president avoid taking a certain action does tend to underscore the brazenness of the act when he goes ahead and takes it anyway. The question is, will Boehner make that point if given the opportunity? He’s resisted targeting DACA thus far because he doesn’t want Democrats demagoging him and the House GOP as being anti-Latino; if Cruz’s passes, he’ll probably be more inclined to avoid talking about it altogether than using it to accuse Obama of flouting the will of the House by issuing a new amnesty.
Here’s Mickey Kaus arguing that border hawks are better off if Boehner’s bill fails than if both his and Cruz’s bills pass. The risk that some form of legislative mass amnesty will be smuggled into a conference committee between the House and Senate is simply too great, he says, to justify passing Boehner’s bill when we already know that Cruz’s bill is doomed in the Senate. I’m less worried about that than he is, though; I think Cantor’s loss plus the brewing backlash from the border crisis has made Boehner too nervous to try anything funny so soon before the midterms. Stay tuned, though!
Update: To follow-up on last night’s post, Boehner’s office disputes that his bill is a sellout on the border crisis. They point to a CBO analysis that argue the bill will make it easier to deport illegal immigrant children more quickly and reduce the number who are granted asylum.