How should Congress combat executive amnesty?

The Republican congressional leadership has formulated its short-term strategy for responding to President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty. It wants to pass a continuing resolution that will fund most of the government for a full year, but will fund the Department of Homeland Security — which is responsible for implementing the amnesty — for only a few months.

It’s not a terrible strategy, but neither is it optimal, for two reasons. First, Obama’s lawlessness might not be confined, going forward, to just amnesty. The Republican leadership’s approach would leave it helpless to respond to other lawless executives orders.

Second, the leadership’s approach takes large-scale shutdown off the table in exchange for nothing. It thus amounts to unilateral disarmament.

This, actually, is why GOP leaders favor it. They want nothing to do with a large-scale shutdown. From their perspective, the sooner that’s off the table, the better.

But this thinking seems misguided to me. If we’re headed for a constitutional crisis — and that’s how things look — Republicans should retain a full arsenal of weapons.

What should congressional Republicans do? In my opinion, they should pass a short-lived continuing resolution and return to battle early next year with the full range of possible responses on the table. By that time, Republicans will control both chambers of Congress, and thus will have a firmer grip on the battlefield.

There’s a third approach — the one being pushed by hardliners. As I understand it, they want to pass a bill in the lame duck session that bans the use of federal funds to implement the executive amnesty.

I’d love to see such a bill passed, even though President Obama would veto it. But with Democrats still in control of the Senate, I don’t see how Congress can enact this legislation. Indeed, I’m hard pressed to imagine Harry Reid even bringing it to a vote.

The House, of course, could pass this legislation. But doing so will have no impact unless the House refuses to fund the government when the legislation fails to move in the Senate.

In that event, we would have a large-scale government shutdown this year. That would be an undesirable result. As I argued above, the time to bring matters to head is early next year when Republicans will have far more control over Congress.

Without some sort of funding bill, the government will (in theory, anyway) “run out of money” next week. Thus, matters are quickly coming to a head. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner seem strongly committed to the sub-optimal approach of funding the government, except for DHS, for a full year. I imagine that, with the help of some Democrats, they have the votes to make it happen.

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