As I wrote here, Mitch McConnell is giving disquieting signs of throwing in the towel on President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty. This is particularly disturbing, given the history: during the lame duck session, the Republican grass roots were clamoring for the House to take immediate action against implementation of the amnesty. Republican leaders in Congress argued that such action would be premature until the GOP controlled the Senate as well as the House, beginning in January. So they negotiated the cromnibus, a massive spending bill that funded most government agencies until late in 2015, but singled out the Department of Homeland Security as the lone exception. DHS was funded only through February. The idea was that when the new Congress convened, it would pass a spending bill that would fund DHS for the rest of the fiscal year, but would omit any funding for implementation of Obama’s amnesty.
Which is exactly what the House did. The Senate has now taken up the House bill three times; each time, the Democrats have filibustered it. Fine: if the Democrats really want to use the filibuster to shut down DHS, that’s their choice. This is exactly the scenario that Republican leaders must have contemplated when they counseled patience during the lame duck session. And yet, there are signs that the leadership is crumbling, not because it has a losing hand politically–it doesn’t–but because, I fear, the Senate leadership doesn’t really want to block Obama’s executive amnesty.
That is what Rush Limbaugh said today:
[T]he idea was that rather than risk a wider government shutdown over Obama’s amnesty, Republicans would focus on the Department of Homeland Security funding, and they would risk a limited shutdown of that department and that department only if Obama and the Democrats refused to scale back his amnesty intentions. But when it came down to the final counting, the Republicans were never really willing to shut down DHS either, and they made no secret of the fact, the Republicans were bluffing, and they admitted they were bluffing…so the Democrats have no reason to support the Republican bill.
Here is the audio. About three and a half minutes in, Rush quotes my post from yesterday:
But that’s not all. There are further signs that Senate Republicans may be crumbling. Yesterday, as I noted here, Illinois’ Mark Kirk was standing tall:
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who is up for reelection in blue Illinois in 2016, was more direct. “If they’re cynically trying to restart the government-shutdown battle, they should be blamed directly. … It’s a very dangerous game. If we have a successful terrorist attack—all the dead Americans from that should be laid at the feet of the Democratic caucus,” Kirk said. …
“In the end, they have to defend the country. They have sworn the allegiance to do that. They need to live up to their oaths of office,” Kirk said. “In the Democratic mind, politics is everything. I would say to them, politics is not everything. If you don’t have a country to defend, what is the purpose of politics?”
But today, Kirk did a bewildering 180:
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk said Wednesday that his party made a mistake by picking a fight over President Barack Obama’s immigration actions, and said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should bring up a “clean” bill to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded.
“I generally agree with the Democratic position here. I think we should have never fought this battle on DHS funding,” the Illinois senator said in the Capitol. “I think it’s the wrong battle for us at the wrong time.”
Does the GOP share blame for the impasse over DHS?
“It does,” Kirk said. “Had I been consulted, which I wasn’t, I don’t think we should have ever attached these issues to DHS funding. I always thought the burden of being in the majority is the burden of governing.”
I can’t explain Kirk’s reversal. A “clean” DHS funding bill is one that funds Obama’s amnesty; it represents surrender.
Today Jeff Flake of Arizona took to the Senate floor, further undermining the party’s position on immigration:
I believe that rather than poke the President in the eye, we ought to put legislation on his desk, and we ought to use this time…to actually move actual immigration legislation. …
There has been a bill introduced in the House and in the Senate. I happen to be a cosponsor of the bill in the Senate, which would help us get a more secure border. That’s one piece of legislation we could be moving right now and put on the president’s desk. …
We also need legislation to expand the guest worker plans and programs that we have now, legislation has been introduced in this body already to deal with high-tech workers. …
We also need to expand other visa categories, we need an ag worker bill to make sure that areas where we simply don’t have enough labor to deal with the needs that we have on our farms, that we pass legislation to do that. …
We also need, obviously, to move legislation to deal with those who are here illegally now, the so-called DREAMERs. Those who are here from no fault of their own who have come to this country, been brought here when they were two years old or twelve years old and are as American as you or me.
You get the drift. The legislation Flake referred to is the McCaul bill, which is grossly inadequate for the reasons we set out here. The McCaul bill is basically a Trojan horse which pretends to do something about enforcement but really only paves the way for vastly increased levels of legal and illegal immigration.
Is the Republican leadership in the Senate preparing to sell out the party’s rank and file? We should know the answer in a matter of days.