Two separate anti-amnesty amendments passed this morning: Marsha Blackburn’s bill, which would freeze Obama’s 2012 DACA amnesty for DREAMers; and Robert Aderholt’s bill, which would defund Obama’s more recent executive amnesty and strip away elements of the previous one. The idea in passing all of them is to give Mitch McConnell options in trying to sell the bill to wary centrist Democrats like Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill. They might not go for Blackburn’s attack on DACA or Aderholt’s attempt to nuke Obama’s executive overreach. But what about Martha Roby’s more limited bill to defund the November amnesty, which will presumably pass later today? Would Democrats be willing to vote for that, knowing that Obama will veto it if it passes and DHS will be defunded?
Actually, would Republicans?
Even some of the Senate’s fiercest critics of Obama’s immigration policies, such as Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, are not taking a tone as aggressive as House Republicans when it comes to holding the Homeland Security Department’s funding at risk.
“We need to fund DHS. I think that’s high ground,” Sessions said Tuesday…
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, was asked directly whether DHS funding was threatened. “I don’t see that happening. Everybody realizes that there are important functions in that department that have to be funded,” he said.
A bright spot about the House legislation, Thune added, is that it will give Republicans a chance to publicly protest Obama’s actions, even if that’s all they do. “It does sort of create an opportunity to discuss the president’s unilateral action on immigration, which a lot of people think is unlawful.”
Even Jeff Sessions, huh? You know the politics of defunding DHS right now are tough if even Mr. Border Hawk sounds squeamish.
The best-case scenario here is that McConnell somehow finds 60 votes for a DHS funding bill with Roby’s amendment attached, then Obama vetoes it. At that point the GOP would claim a moral victory in getting a critical mass of Democrats to agree that his new mega-amnesty should be defunded, whereupon they’ll turn right around and pass a clean funding bill that will leave that amnesty intact. What I can’t figure out is why they made a big show of holding up DHS funding in the “cromnibus” last month knowing that this outcome was a fait accompli unless they convinced a handful of Dems not only to vote with them on amnesty but to tolerate a Homeland Security shutdown over it. The answer, I guess, is that this was always a goodwill gesture to conservatives and little more: They had to do something to exercise their power of the purse, especially after righties handed them control of the Senate. They also knew that that exercise would be futile but that conservatives wouldn’t accept it until Congress was put through its paces and forced a vote in the Senate, at a minimum. Even that seems ill-planned by GOP leaders, though. Since it’s unlikely that McConnell will convince six Democrats to join the GOP in opposing Obama on amnesty, the first big test of the new Republican-controlled Senate is going to be … a painful failure on an issue that conservatives care a lot about. Huh.
Here’s Boehner on the floor this morning, doing his best to pander to righties knowing the disappointment that lies ahead.