News reports indicate that the House GOP plans to surrender to the President and avoid taking a stand against his unconstitutional executive amnesty. Even leftwing media outlets agree that the plan is a unilateral surrender. According to Politico, they will vote on a “symbolic” bill opposing the President’s executive action that the “Senate will likely ignore”, then pass a massive omnibus spending bill that stays silent on amnesty.
For crying out loud, even [mc_name name='Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)' chamber='senate' mcid='R000146' ] supports it. We can now call this the Boehner-Reid Amnesty Authorization Act:
Senate Majority Leader [mc_name name='Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)' chamber='senate' mcid='R000146' ] (D-Nev.) on Tuesday signaled that he will accept a House Republican plan to pass an omnibus spending bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security for only a few months.
Reid, who has made passing an omnibus spending bill one of his top priorities of the lame-duck session, said he would consider House passage of the “cromnibus” a policy win.
“That would be a big accomplishment if we could get a bill over here that would fund all the appropriations subcommittees except for one,” Reid told reporters. “I think it's kind of unfortunate that they're talking about not doing Homeland Security but that’s the way it is.”
Folks, this Boehner-Reid plan should have been laughed out of the room. Instead, House Republicans are embracing it. They still don’t seem to have learned that in negotiations, they should start with their best offer, not their worst. The best offer is clear: the House must pass a funding bill that stops the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty. Period. This is made even easier by the fact that conservatives already did their homework for them and wrote ironclad language that would stop the President.
Passing a funding bill that stops the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty puts the ball in the Senate’s court, and there’s reason to believe that [mc_name name='Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)' chamber='senate' mcid='R000146' ] could have a difficult time handling it. That’s why he’s supporting the Boehner-Reid plan. Heritage Action has written an excellent overview of Reid’s options if the House sent him the Boehner-Reid bill:
Block the House-passed Bill
In most circumstances, the Senate is required to take multiple votes to proceed to a bill. Reid could prevent debate and consideration of the House-passed bill by filibustering the “motion to proceed.” As few as 41 Senators could prevent Senate consideration, though it would be fair to characterize such as vote as prioritizing work permits and Social Security numbers for immigrants who are in the country illegally above all else, including funding of the government.
Even if Reid is successful in blocking consideration of the House-passed bill, the vote itself would be an important benchmark. And it would not necessarily signal an end to the legislative fight because the Republican-controlled House would not be compelled to pass a new bill simply because Reid demanded such action. The onus should remain on Reid’s Senate to act to fund the government.
Pass a Senate-crafted Bill
The Senate is under no obligation to consider legislation passed by the House of Representatives, as evinced by the 408 House-passed bills currently awaiting action in the Senate, raising concerns that Reid would simply ignore the House-passed bill. To blunt the narrative that Senate Democrats are ignoring, filibustering or killing a government funding bill, Reid could attempt to pass a Senate-crafted appropriations measure.
However, cloture (a 60-vote threshold) would need to be invoked on this new bill, which would require the support of at least five Republican Senators. Given that McConnell has indicated he will support whatever legislation comes over from the House, there is no reason for his Republican colleagues to vote in favor of Reid’s alternative. If Senate Republicans hold together, they can force Reid not only to consider the House-passed bill, but also to block his attempts to offer a Senate-crafted version of the funding bill that does not include language blocking the President’s executive actions on immigration.
Strip Language from House-passed Bill
If Reid proceeds to the House-passed bill, he could opt to strike the language blocking the President’s executive actions on immigration. Considering the unlikely nature of wrangling 60 Senators to strike the rider before cloture is invoked on the House-passed bill, Reid could move to strike the language after cloture has been invoked. Doing so would require 51 votes, meaning Republicans would have to pick up five Democrats to protect the language included by the House. A vote in favor of the motion to strike would be an explicit endorsement of the President’s executive actions.
It is unclear if Reid possesses the necessary votes, making this approach high-risk. Failing to strip the language would be a political embarrassment for both Reid and the White House, and mean the House-passed bill would only need a final vote (simple majority) before heading to President Obama’s desk. President Obama, for the first time in his presidency, would be faced with a choice: sign the bill and keep the government running or veto the bill and cause a government shutdown.
These facts should give conservatives heart. The Senate’s options are relatively limited, and nobody really knows whether the Senate would reject a funding bill with a strong rider, until the House actually sends a bill over. After that happens, House Republicans can reassess their strategy as needed. But the first step is to grow a backbone, find some testicular fortitude, and stand up for the Constitution.
Putting aside the above, some House Republicans still seem to be desperately clinging to the illusion that in a few months they will be able to stand on stronger ground alongside a Republican majority in the Senate to oppose amnesty. They couldn’t be more wrong – both House and Senate leadership have no real intention of undoing the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty. In fact, while they publicly act outraged, they’re secretly relieved, because the President has removed by executive fiat the single biggest obstacle to their long running efforts to force comprehensive immigration reform through Congress.
Therein lies the sad truth. Republican leaders are doing everything they can to create the appearance of outraged opposition to the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty in the hopes that this clears the way for comprehensive immigration reform, and House Republicans are guzzling down the Kool-Aid. They must demand that any funding bill also stop the President from granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants by executive fiat. To do any less on a first volley to the Senate is to abandon their base.