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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

When Republicans took full control of Congress, the political media fell all over itself declaring that now the GOP must finally prove that it can govern. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, Republicans have fallen into the familiar pattern of fighting bruising internal battles over bills that have no chance of becoming law — a strategy that may be about to blow up in their faces.

From its first days, it became clear that the 114th Congress would look an awful lot like the 113th edition.

“Week 1, we had the vote for the Speaker. Week 2, we debated deporting children. Week 3, we’re debating rape and incest,” moderate Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) lamented in late January. “I just can’t wait for Week 4.”

Week 4 and beyond have been just about as disastrous as Dent feared. As a result of December’s “CRomnibus” bill to fund the federal government, Congress has just over two weeks left before funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out on February 27 — a timeframe that gets even tighter, given Congress’ plan to recess during the week of Presidents’ Day. As of yet, there’s no indication that congressional leadership has any plan to prevent the DHS from shutting down.

On January 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide $40 billion to keep the department running. But it would also block inplementation of President Obama’s November executive action shielding over 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, along with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects young immigrants who arrived in the country as children.

In other words, it has absolutely no chance of passing the Senate — something that the upper chamber has proven on three separate occasions.

So as Republicans point fingers about who’s to blame for their current predicament — even Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) acknowledges that they’re playing a losing hand — they’re left with very few attractive options.

They could pass a clean bill to fund the DHS without fighting President Obama’s executive orders — but that would require a minority of Republicans to partner with Democrats, and would likely spark a revolt within the party’s right-wing base, which has been promised an all-out war against the president’s unilateral immigration actions.

They could let the DHS shut down (the favored option of a surprising number of congressmen who don’t believe Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s dire warnings that such a move could jeopardize national security). But in addition to being bad policy, this would be terrible politics; as Republicans should have learned during their 2013 shutdown debacle, President Obama will not give in to such an attempt to extort policy changes they are unable to legislate. Furthermore, the American public is extremely unlikely to buy the GOP’s “Democrats are the ones who really want a shutdown” reasoning. And perhaps most importantly, shutting down the DHS would do absolutely nothing to stop President Obama’s immigration actions. In other words, Republicans have no leverage in this fight.

Or Republicans could join with Democrats to pass a clean, short-term funding bill, and fight this battle all over again in a few weeks or months.

That may ultimately be the most likely outcome to the standoff, but it would do nothing to solve the GOP’s root problem on immigration: They have no real reform policy. Since the Senate’s bipartisan reform bill derailed in 2013, Republicans have generally stuck to vague talking points about securing the border, while obliquely promising to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible (despite having no plan on how they’d actually do so, or how they’d pay the nearly $25 billion tab for a mass deportation without violating their various pledges to balance the budget and shrink the deficit).

Until Republicans come up with a serious policy that goes past opposing President Obama, they will continue to be unable to act on immigration without returning to deadline-induced drama and intra-party warfare.

Immigration remains a genuine political crisis for the GOP — and it’s not going away.

Photo: Speaker Boehner via Flickr

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • harviele

    Republicans are already passing around stuff indicating that the President added his immigration policies to the DHS bill instead of the other way around. You would perhaps be surprised at the number of people out there who are willing to believe that.

    • FireBaron

      You mean like everybody who watches Fox News?

      • harviele

        I call it the Fox Republican Propaganda Network – FRPN.

    • jam

      I wouldn’t be surprised at all. I think I’m related to half of them… my great sorrow.

      • harviele

        Me too, I think many people choose to not know the truth. It justifies their hatred for the President when the truth is twisted for them.

  • Dominick Vila

    Undermining the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security, and by default our national security, to prevent the implementation of a temporary work permit for undocumented immigrants that have been in the USA for over 5 years, and who have children born in the USA, and another round of attack against Central American children trying to escape from the violence that prevails in countries like Honduras, require a redefinition of the term irresponsibility.
    As a Democrat, I welcome unexpected political gifts like this, as an American I deplore the decision of those who voted for morons like Boehner, McConnell, and their cronies.
    Political games are not unprecedented, deliberately compromising our national security is. Hopefully, the next congressional investigation involves potential links between Republicans in Congress and organizations such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or ISIL.

    • kG

      Dominick is one of those sixty year old “dreamers” that are getting ” differed deportation ” under DACCA!

      • Dominick Vila

        First of all, thank you for the 60 year old bit. I really appreciate that! Secondly, although Brooklyn can sometimes seem like something alien, it is still a part of the USA. Thirdly, please try to learn how to write in English, or could it be that you are still having keyboard malfunctions?

  • Paul Bass

    Again, we all know how this will end. They will pass a “clean” bill.

    The TP and GOP will scream and holler, but they don’t have 67 votes in the Senate to override Obama. They don’t even have 60 votes to bring anything up, as we saw this week.

    Suck it up a$$hat GOP, come up to the 20th century, and then join the 21st.

  • James Bowen

    Since they are not allowed to enforce immigration laws in the interior by this administration, DHS is basically shut down already. The GOP should absolutely not yield on this.

    • bstockinger

      DHS does a lot more than enforce the immigration laws. You might want to look at the agencies transferred to DHS sometime before you make these comments. Coast Guard, Secret Service, Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Customs, etc. are only a few of the agencies that reside in DHS.

      • James Bowen

        Most of these relate to keeping undesirable people/things out of U.S., so they are tangentially related to immigration. If there is no interior enforcement, than border and port security is a hollow shell. Besides, most of these will remain operational in the event of a shutdown since they are considered vital.

        By the way, the executive amnesty will go forward if DHS “shuts down”. Those who voted for this appropriations bill want it to pass as a shutdown does not accomplish what they hope to accomplish. So who is it that is really shutting DHS down?

  • bstockinger

    Legislation by appropriations bills is a poor substitute for legislation that can get through both houses of Congress and get signed by the President. Much as people don’t like executive orders, unless you can show in a Federal court that they are illegal, they are hard to overturn. Reagan and George Bush loved executive orders as much as Obama does.

    • dpaano

      More than President Obama, in fact!

  • kG

    Just shut it down! Completely and let the people take care of these illegals. With our own executive decree! Just take them to the Mexican line and tell them if they ever come back they will be shot, and shoot!

    • harviele

      Satire right?

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        I’m thinking an ISIS implant under cover of this thread..rofl.

    • FT66

      May we know who issued you the licence to kill?

      • kG

        Her majesty the queen behind this tailor shop in Sevil Row!

    • Eleanore Whitaker

      Are you willing to fine ALL of the employers in the US hiring these illegals and causing the illegal problem in the first place? Not one word is ever mentioned about going after employers who provide the jobs that provide the housing and other needs for illegals.

      Get back to the root of the problem. Illegals don’t go to countries when they know they won’t have jobs. Period.

      • kG

        Yes!! A pogresive fine and this strike impressment.

    • Melvin Miller

      That is a very intelligent solution . NOT!!

      • kG

        No but the most effective , garuanteed!

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Shutdown, sequester, go back…and this is what they get paid for? This is one reason I am an avid supporter of I&R (Initiative and Referendum). When you cannot hope to get a party paid off by billionaires to do the will of the people on Main Street, I&R is the only thing that removes this Confederate blockade’s attempts to rule the government with an iron hand.