Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli calls the Senate Republicans’ decision to push Homeland Security funding that includes money for President Obama’s immigration action a “total surrender” that proves GOP leaders “really don’t have any backbone.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, decided earlier in the week to stop pushing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill that strictly forbids funding for Obama administration executive action on immigration in 2012 and 2014. With Democrats blocking debate, McConnell agreed to bring a “clean” bill forward in exchange for a Democratic promises to vote on a separate bill to defund Obama’s unilateral November action to legalize five million people in the country illegally. The latter bill has virtually no chance of passing.
So is this an example of Republicans letting Obama get away with an unconstitutional act or was it the only realistic way to keep our Homeland Security efforts funded?
“Oh, it’s an absolute surrender and surrender is the primary word that we have been able to associate with the Republican leadership since Election Day. Can you point me to one time they have fought? No, you can’t. What did they run on? Fighting. Well, if they had run on what they have been doing just in the last few months, there wouldn’t be Republican majorities in the House or Senate,” said Cuccinelli, who served as attorney general in Virginia from 2010-2014 and was the GOP nominee for governor in 2013.
He says there’s an astounding difference between the Republican rhetoric in the 2014 midterm elections and what we’re seeing now.
“Senate leadership and House leadership by Republicans have failed to deliver what they promised. This is a very basic item. One of the two most important issues of the election, along with Obamacare, was the president’s illegal actions on amnesty,” said Cuccinelli.
In 2014, Republicans campaigned vigorously on the theme that a Republican majority in both the House and Senate would give the party much more power to stop President Obama’s agenda. So why didn’t it make any difference in this debate?
“They really don’t have any backbone. If they had principles at any point in their political lives, they don’t have them anymore. They’ve constructed their own view in their head of what everybody thinks of them. What they care about most is people thinking they are nice fellows instead of principled fighters or anything really meaningful. They’re scared to death to be painted as mean,” said Cuccinelli, who says that GOP mindset is a dream come true for President Obama.
“If you’re the president, that is awfully easy to deal with and we’re watching the president deal very effectively because it is so easy for him. This is very poor negotiation,” he said.
In addition to believing Republicans constantly cede the high ground to Obama, Cuccinelli is appalled that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is not only gaining the upper hand on the minority leader but now issuing demands for the House of Representatives to fall in line as well.
“Negotiating is a skill and Harry Reid has at least a little bit of that skill, where Mitch McConnell doesn’t appear to have any. That little bit of that skill is enough to, frankly, outmaneuver Mitch McConnell. So instead of getting one surrender and calling it a day, Harry Reid is upping for two surrenders. He now also wants the House to surrender. The only way to stop that going forward is to stop surrendering,” exclaimed Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli says Republican leaders need to apply a lesson parents learned long ago.
“The rules for how to deal with this are very similar to your two-year-old. If you tell them that they can’t have candy if they misbehave and they misbehave and you give them candy, what happens? Well, for any of us who have had a two-year-old, we all know what happens,” said Cuccinelli, a father of seven.
“They haven’t done what they said they were going to do. In December, they said, ‘In February, we will attach the executive amnesty defunding language to the DHS bill. If you don’t do that, it’s giving the two-year-old candy when they misbehave,” he said, referring to the “cromnibus” strategy.
After Obama announced his unilateral action in November, GOP leaders decided to postpone the fight over funding it until they controlled both the House and the Senate. In December, Congress funded the entire government through September 2015, with the exception of Homeland Security.
“There’s no reason for Republicans to have not defunded executive amnesty in December. They set up the plan to defund here in February on the DHS bill. Remember that. This is their plan. This isn’t the conservatives’ idea. Conservatives didn’t want to do this. Conservatives wanted to defund this in December,” said Cuccinelli
What approach would Cuccinelli advocate in this debate? He says it’s pretty simple actually.
“It’s not that complicated. The defund language should stay in the DHS bill. You need a must-pass bill. They should pass the bill. If Democrats filibuster it, that’s on the Democrats. They should go out and say the Democrats have shut down the Department of Homeland security,” said Cuccinelli.
“[Republicans} say, ‘Oh, but we never win that fight.’ Well, good news. Eighty or eighty-five percent of all the personnel in the Department of Homeland Security are labeled necessary folks. So they’re not going anywhere,” he said.
“You’re only talking about shutting down 15-20 percent of that department. We’re not going to lose border patrol. We’re not going to lose protection. All those things are going to continue on, but Democrats are going to have held this up. If you’re the House Republicans and you send over a bill that doesn’t defund amnesty, you have to reject it” said Cuccinelli.
In the end, Cuccinelli says it all comes back to leading with principles and conviction.
“They need to stand up and fight for what they campaigned on. What the American people thought they campaigned on was ending executive amnesty and restoring the rule of law,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli says the Senate Conservatives Fund does not decide whether to seek conservative challengers to sitting members based on individual votes, but he says this and other votes will be watched very carefully. He also says a senator’s entire six years is closely scrutinized since many moderates suddenly vote in more conservatively when their re-election draws near.
Regardless of which members are eventually deemed worthy of a challenge, Cuccinelli says the criteria they look for in candidates remains the same.
“We’re looking for conservative fighters, who don’t just want to be in the majority. They want to be helping to lead America in the right direction, and that is back in the direction of first principles of this country here in the 21st century,” said Cuccinelli.