The House GOP leadership already wants to abandon a funding bill it passed only about a week ago that aimed to block President Obama’s de facto amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. According to Politico:
Top Republicans are exploring ways of escaping their political jam on immigration, with steps that could avoid a funding cutoff for the Department of Homeland Security while letting conservatives vent their anger at President Barack Obama.
Among the possible Plan B’s: Republicans could pass a new bill to beef up security at the U.S.-Mexico border. They could sue to overturn Obama’s unilateral protections for millions of undocumented immigrants. Or they could pass yet another short-term DHS funding measure, giving the GOP more time to approve a strategy.
Either way, Republican leaders hope to reach a deal that would allow Homeland Security funding to continue past Feb. 27, without making it appear to their right flank that they are caving to the White House.
The problem with Plan B is that beefing up border security does nothing to prevent the amnesty, and a lawsuit, as Patrick Brennan of NRO points out, won’t be resolved for quite a while and is probably better brought by states (who are already working on it).
Why the cave? There are several pragmatic justifications, but Brennan shows they aren’t persuasive.
The real answer can be discerned from the nature of Plan B. Understand first, that the regime Obama has imposed — amnesty for most illegal immigrants but no path to citizenship — is the substantive policy most Republican legislators (and quite possibly most Republicans, period) favor. You don’t need to be a “Washington insider” (I’m certainly not) to pick up on this.
In fact, there is substantial sentiment among Republican legislators in favor of both amnesty and a path to citizenship. This became clear when the Senate, with fairly substantial Republican support, passed the Schumer-Rubio amnesty in 2013. But the prevailing desire is amnesty but no path to citizenship, at least not now.
The biggest substantive objection to amnesty but no path to citizenship (and the main reason I oppose it) is that granting amnesty would encourage the next wave of illegal immigration. In other words, this amnesty would produce the same result as the last one.
Plan B tries to address this objection by mandating measures to improve border security. Unfortunately, there’s little reason to believe that the legislation would deliver on its promise, which is why there should be no amnesty until the border has been secured. But this inconvenient truth is easy to ignore.
The procedural objection to Obama’s amnesty (and what really rankles congressional Republicans) is, of course, the fact that the president illegally bypassed Congress.
Plan B addresses the violation via a lawsuit. Unfortunately, it’s unclear that Congress would be deemed to have standing to pursue the suit.
Republicans, in short, are going to have to fight Obama tooth-and-nail or largely capitulate. There is no suitable middle way.
The reluctance to fight all-out is understandable. Boehner and McConnell want to legislate, not obstruct. And letting the Department of Homeland Security “shut down” is almost meaningless as a practical matter, but politically risky.
However, as National Review has suggested, Congress could pass one bill to fund all of DHS except for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is responsible for implementing the president’s amnesty, and another bill that funds CIS but prohibits it from implementing the November amnesty.
There may be other strategies through which legislatively to oppose Obama’s executive amnesty. Any of them is better than the surrender the House leadership seems to have in mind.