There is a significant test coming up for the new Republican majority in the Senate, and if they have any hope of sustaining the support of conservatives and like minded independents who propelled them back into the driver’s seat it is one they must pass. On their first attempt at passing a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (while cutting off funding for executive amnesty) the Democrats filibustered and shut the deal down in the Senate. This led to two names you don’t normally see in the same sentence addressing the issue.
Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) argued during a Senate GOP lunch that if Democrats filibuster the Department of Homeland Security funding bill — which blocks implementation of Obama’s 2012 deferred action program and his November 2014 “adult amnesty” — Republicans should respond by blocking only the 2014 orders. The thinking, according to a GOP senator who was in the lunch, is that Senate Democrats will have a harder time staying unified for a filibuster if Republicans have a narrower focus.
“What I have said for months now is the central focus of Republicans should be stopping President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty,” Cruz told National Review Online when asked to confirm the details of his case. “That’s what Republican candidates promised the voters in November and that’s the promise we need to fulfill.”
Collins does not share Cruz’s antipathy for the 2012 program, but she told reporters that the 2014 orders are obviously unconstitutional.
While it’s good to see a bit of cooperation between Cruz and one of the leading moderates in the upper chamber, there is no reason to follow the lead of Collins and cave on the 2012 provisions. In fact, it would be counterproductive to narrow the focus just to try to leverage a deal out of the Democrats at this point. The GOP has all the tools it requires at this point to obtain the deal they need while fulfilling their earlier promises to their constituents. To see how this works, we need look no further than the comments made by the President himself when he began issuing stern warnings about the DHS funding battle.
[U]ntil they pass a funding bill, it is the end of a paycheck for tens of thousands of front-line workers who will continue to … have to work without getting paid.”
The president noted that more than 40,000 border patrol and customs agents, 50,000 Transportation Security Administration airport screeners, 13,000 immigration officers and 40,000 Coast Guard employees — all of them considered essential employees — would have to work but not get paid once the deadline passes.
“These Americans aren’t just working to keep us safe, they have to take care of their own families,” he said. “The notion that they would get caught up in a disagreement around policy that has nothing to do with them makes no sense.”
Indeed, Mr. President, it would make no sense at all. And now let’s take a look at the actual bill which is already a sure thing in the House and the matching measure currently being held up by your party in the Senate, as well as the complaints you listed above:
Wages for border patrol and customs agents? Paid for.
Wages for immigration officers and Coast Guard employees? Got it covered.
TSA screeners? There may be a lot of gritting of teeth over that one, but it’s paid for as well.
It’s all there, President Obama, with the money ready to flow and the paychecks waiting to be covered. All it requires is your party to put it through to your desk and for you to sign it.
What’s that you say? There isn’t money for your executive amnesty program? Well, we’re sorry to inform you, but the people who elected the current majority were promised that funding for that would not be supported. If you would really like to see it happen I’m sure we could draft up a separate bill funding just those activities and see how many votes it attracts. (But I’m sorry to say, your prospects are not good.)
This ties into what I repeatedly wished for during the last election battle and what I wrote in January about the new paradigm of obstructionism. DHS needs to be funded for all the reasons the President set forth. Congress has drafted bills to do precisely that. If the Senate Democrat minority and the President want to shut down that funding, don’t look at us. Explain to all of those workers why you refused to enact the legislation presented to you which would have kept their paychecks coming in.
Ted Cruz is on top of this and, for once, there is absolutely no need for any “compromise” on the issue. The funding has been made available. If the new obstructionists in the Senate minority and the Oval office want to turn their nose up at it over the lack of funding for an unconstitutional, political bone they prefer to chew on, let them explain it to the public. The GOP has already done all it needs to do to keep the wheels of the government turning.