Greg Corombos of Radio America and Andrew Johnson of National Review welcome two new polls suggesting Bill Cassidy could be leading Mary Landrieu by more than 20 points in the Louisiana Senate race. They also blast the Treasury Department for refusing to hand over documents showing the IRS shared taxpayer information with the White House. And they shake their heads as the Senate confirms a soap opera producer to be ambassador to Hungary.
Archives for December 2014
House Republicans plan to push the immigration funding fight into next Spring, when the GOP will control all of Capitol Hill, but one departing House member says lawmakers need to act more decisively to block President Obama’s executive order on immigration.
On November 20, Obama signed an executive order removing the threat of deportation for illegal immigrants whose children have legal status in the U.S. Official estimates suggest the orders would impact five million people but other experts believe the number will be much higher.
On Tuesday, House Republicans charted a multi-layered response in advance of the debate to fund the government after December 11. The GOP plans to fund most federal government operations through the end of Fiscal Year 2015 but fund immigration enforcement programs only until early next year. At that time, with majorities in both the House and Senate, Republicans hope to deny funding for Obama’s executive order and render it effectively meaningless. In addition, House Republicans are advancing legislation to overturn the order.
The plan is attracting quite a bit of support from GOP lawmakers, but others insist it simply is not aggressive enough.
“I don’t agree with that approach. I think we ought to have a very short continuing resolution that goes just through January, that includes limitation language that keeps the president from putting in this unconstitutional executive action in place,” said Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia).
Broun decided not to run for re-election in 2014. Instead, he sought the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in Georgia but lost in the primary. His time in the House will end when the new Congress is sworn in next month.
As one of his final acts, Broun says Republicans need to set the stage for their House and Senate majorities to take bold action early next year.
“We need to have a very short-term CR, so that in early January a Republican Senate and a Republican House can actually put good Republican plans in place (and) good Republican policy in place to stop this runaway imperial presidency. He’s acting like a dictator and it must stop,” said Broun. “We have to reel this president in. He’s acting in a very unprecedented way.”
On Tuesday, The House Homeland Security Committee grilled Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson over Obama’s executive order. Much of the hearing consisted of Republicans blasting the president for allegedly changing immigration law on his own when it should be the work of Congress. Johnson insisted Obama had not created any new laws but was simply operating within existing laws.
Broun finds the administration’s argument ridiculous.
“It’s illegal. It’s unconstitutional and it should not stand. Congress has the opportunity to stop it and we must do so,” said Broun. “Secretary Johnson is an apologist for the president. He’s going to promote whatever his boss, President Obama, says that he should be promoting,” said Broun.
In addition to believing that Obama’s actions are clearly unconstitutional, Broun also rejects the administration’s contention that the executive actions will be a step in solving our nation’s immigration problems. On the contrary, the congressman says it will only make many aspects of illegal immigration much worse.
“What they’re opening up is a door, in my opinion, for much more illegal migration into this country. We’re going to see a tremendous amount of fraud put forward,” he said, referring to forged documents for both future illegals and those about to receive legal status.
“Every single one of them not only breaks immigration laws but every single one of them break multiple other laws. They all have documentation that is fraudulent, so they’re all guilty of fraud. Then when they have the opportunity to get a legal work permit or do something that will provide them some source of standing legally in this country, we’re going to see that much more fraud. Jeh Johnson cannot answer those questions and he will not because there’s no answers to them,” said Broun.
When considering the constitutional issues and the pragmatic effects of Obama’s executive order, Broun says Republicans have no choice but to fight relentlessly to stop him.
“What the president has done is absolutely against the law. It’s against the Constitution. The president does not have the authority to do so and Congress needs to call his hand and hold him responsible,” said Broun.
Broun is preparing to leave Congress after seven and a half years in office. He was a surprise winner of a special election to replace the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Georgia). He quickly established a reputation as one of the most conservative members in the House and clashed with leaders in his own party on numerous occasions.
Although he spent many years as a doctor prior to his foray into politics, Broun says he will continue devoting his time to the issues he cares about most deeply.
“I stood firm for the American people, for liberty and the Constitution as the founding fathers meant it. We have to return to the foundation principles that both parties have been destroying. Both political parties have created government that’s just totally out of control. It’s spending money that we don’t have and both political parties are guilty of creating this debt that’s unsustainable,” said Broun.
“As I leave Congress, I’m looking for an opportunity to make a living as well as to stay in the fight for liberty and freedom and returning to those foundational principles. We have to return power to the states and to the people as the tenth amendment demands, and I’m going to stay in that fight,” he said.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Andrew Johnson of National Review cheer House Republicans like Jason Chaffetz for shredding Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and the White House argument that President Obama did not unilaterally change immigration laws. They also react to Jeb Bush suggesting that Republicans should not cater to conservatives during the 2016 primary in order to stand a better chance in the general election. And they slam former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for saying Americans just don’t understand health insurance.
House Republicans are launching a two-headed strategy to stop President Obama’s executive orders on immigration that will both reject the president’s actions with legislation while simultaneously targeting funding for their enforcement.
Timing is essential in this strategy. Current funding for government operations is set to expire December 11. GOP leaders plan to move both parts of this strategy well before that deadline.
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida) is spearheading the effort to strike down the executive orders. His bill (H.R 5759) is known as the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act.
“This president, what he is doing is unilaterally rewriting the law. He cannot do that,” said Yoho.
Last month, Obama announced he was removing the threat of deportation for those in the country illegally for five years or more and whose children have legal status in the U.S. They would also be able to obtain work permits.
The congressman says his bill to rescind the Obama orders is straightforward.
“This is something to block the executive order that he did November 20 and its retroactive from that date forward. It exclusively says that the president does not have the authority to go ahead and rewrite the laws. It brings out the authority of the Constitution, Article I, Section 8, that says all naturalization laws are the sole responsibility of Congress, that the president can’t step in there and unilaterally rewrite these on his own,” said Yoho.
Not only can Obama not enact new laws on his own, but Yoho says the president is failing in his constitutional responsibility to enforce the laws that are already on the books. He says his bill addresses that issue for Obama and future presidents as well.
“This is not just for this president. This is from this point forward, to have a line drawn that says Congress is paying attention and we are going to abide by the Constitution and we’re going to hold our presidents to that, as we should,” said Yoho.
Yoho says there is no appropriations component to his bill. That will be fought over in separate legislation.
“Our bill will be a stand alone bill and it’s not tied into funding. There’s no threat of a government shutdown with the passage of this bill. The big thing is it stops a dangerous precedent that this president is doing from this point forward (and) for the next presidents, Republican and Democrat,” said Yoho.
In addition to Republicans firmly believing the Constitution is on their side in this debate, Yoho says the voters are in the GOP’s corner as well.
“The American people spoke loud and clear in the last election on November 4 and they’re tired of unilateral legislation. They’re tired of people stepping on the Constitution and what the president is trying to do is not solving the problem. It’s making it worse,” said Yoho.
But will the Yoho bill pass? While House passage is virtually certain, critics say it will undoubtedly die in the Senate while Democrats control the chamber in this lame duck session. Without actually becoming law, some conservatives suggest this amounts to more talk instead of actions yielding results.
Yoho does not see it that way and says he has a major asset in this battle that should not be underestimated.
“That’s not in my control. My control is to do the best legislation we can from the House. The American people can weigh in on this. That’s why programs like yours are so important, to let the American people know that there is a way to stop the executive overreach of this administration. So what they need to do is call up their representatives, Republicans and Democrats, and say, ‘We want this bill to pass.’ If we can do that, (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid has to determine whether he wants to be the guy saying, ‘Nope, we’re not going to do this.'” said Yoho.
While not as involved in planning the government funding legislation, Yoho says there are a number of ideas being considered. The most popular approach seems to be to fund the vast majority of government through the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2015. The GOP would then push a short-term extension of funding at current levels for the Department of Homeland Security into the early weeks of the new Congress.
At that point, with majorities in the House and Senate, Republicans would seek to forbid any federal dollars being allocated to implement or enforce Obama’s executive orders. If a government shutdown looms under that approach, Yoho says the blame will rest entirely with Obama, both for putting Congress in this position and risking a shutdown.
“Why did he go ahead and do the executive order now? Why did he wait until after the midterms? They had control of the House and the Senate (in 2009 and 2010). Why did they not do that then. This system’s been broken for over 30 years. We don’t need to rush into this and we don’t need to do it this way. It’s bad for America,” said Yoho.
“Then to tie this and say that he’s going to veto this, he will be the one unilaterally deciding to shut down the government,” said Yoho.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review see Ashton Carter as one of President Obama’s least objectionable cabinet selections in recent memory. They also wrestle with the House GOP strategy to confront Obama’s executive action on immigration. And they scratch their heads over the deluge of coverage over one congressional staffer’s criticism of the Obama daughters.
The next ten days will decide whether congressional Republicans can unify behind a strategy to resist President Obama executive orders allowing millions of illegal immigrants to stay and work in the U.S. or whether the GOP will splinter over differences in strategy.
The federal government is currently funded through December 11. By then, the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate must come to agreement on legislation to keep the government fully open. Both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have promised vigorous pushback for Obama’s unilateral approach to immigration policy but both have also vowed never to allow another government shutdown.
However, Federation for American Immigration Reform Communications Director Bob Dane says targeting the funding for Obama’s policy makes the most sense and believes many conservatives in Congress agree.
“I think a lot of members consider that the first and the best step. The downside is Republicans are worried about being blamed for a shutdown of the government. But I think they need to remember that it will be the Democrats in the Senate and the president who opt for a federal shutdown, not the Republicans. The House will have done its job. They will have presented a funding bill and stopped a lawless action and I don’t think they have anything to apologize for,” said Dane.
Dane says he is fully aware of recent history and how Republicans have taken most of the blame in recent government funding impasses, but he contends there is something far bigger at stake in this fight than just policy and appropriations.
“No member of Congress, whether they’re in the House or the Senate, whether they are Republican, Democrat or independent, none of these members can let this usurpation of power be left unchecked. They may disagree about the issue. Certainly, we all have different approaches to the immigration issue. But in Congress, regardless of political stripes, they’re all members of the same club. The one thing they should all agree on is the club rules and this president has violated those,” said Dane.
If Congress does not confront Obama over what most Republicans see as an unconstitutional act, Dane fears Obama will only be encouraged to take similar action again on immigration and other policies. He says starting the fight now at the funding stage could be critical in the months ahead.
“It’s a necessary step for Congress to demonstrate that they’ve exhausted all of their remedies to restore their power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization under Article I should impeachment become a necessary and a next step. It’s sort of like if your dog has been barking. Before you can go to the judge, you’ve got to try to work it out with your neighbor and exhaust all remedies before you go for the big guns,” said Dane.
Dane says he is hopeful the Republicans can come to a consensus this week on the right way to proceed and demonstrate a unified front, but he contends that’s easier said than done.
“You’ve got a bit of division between Republican leadership who would just as soon that Obama’s amnesty goes through and they have a clean plate to work with legislatively in the next year and the rank and file conservatives, who want very much want this action stopped,” said Dane, who blames both parties for the state of our immigration system.
He says Democrats are determined to put millions of government-dependent people on the path to citizenship and the voting booth. He accuses GOP leaders of pushing the business agenda of importing cheap labor to the U.S. Where any GOP consensus can be found will be seen in the next week and a half, but Dane says what happens will reverberate throughout the Republican Party for a long time.
“I think the Republicans are going to have to find consensus on what the devil they’re going to do. They’ve got to keep a civil war within their own party from happening. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (are) very, very hesitant to fight Obama on this, far less than the rank and file,” said Dane.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are encouraged that early voting for the Louisiana U.S. Senate runoff suggest another likely Republican pickup. They also groan as Republicans try to navigate a response to President Obama’s immigration action that doesn’t shut down the government and doesn’t allow Obama to get away with something they see as unconstitutional. And they slam protesters upset with the decision not to indict Darren Wilson for blocking commuter traffic in cities across the nation, today in Washington.