The Corner

How the Congressional GOP Is Already Trying to Give Up on Fighting Obama’s Executive Amnesty

About a week ago, House Republicans passed a funding bill that aimed to block President Obama’s de facto amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.

Already, GOP leadership wants to abandon that bill and replace it with a “Plan B,” which has the unfortunate flaw of not being a plan to stop the amnesty at all. 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.

All these options would soften the hard line the House drew last week, when it passed a DHS spending bill that would roll back Obama administration moves on immigration dating back to 2011.

A number of Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, want the GOP to take the most aggressive action possible, starting with the House bill. But Senate Republicans lack the votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster or an expected veto of the House plan — so the party’s top lawmakers hope to quickly settle on a fallback strategy.

The House bill surely does lack the votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster and bring the confrontation to the president’s desk, but that’s in part because the bill also targets Obama’s 2012 amnesty of young illegal immigrants (it would prevent renewals of their status and not allow new applicants) and challenges executive enforcement priorities announced in 2011 and 2012. Those policies may have been overreach, too, but they weren’t recent or egregious enough to attract serious Democratic condemnation. A bill that targets all of them was  obviously bad strategy, and it helped make leadership’s queasiness about this strategy inevitable.

If Republicans wanted to, they could just pass a new bill that specifically targets only Obama’s November executive amnesty. Or if they could split such a bill in two, as NR’s editors recommend, with a bill funding almost all of DHS, taking that pressure off, and a bill funding just the agency that’s implementing the amnesty, blocking said implementation. That kind of “Plan B” would be a meaningful way to show they oppose the president.

Instead, leadership’s “Plan B,” as Politico explains, is either border-security legislation or legal challenges to the president’s executive actions.

The former has nothing to do with the November amnesty and the latter is going to take a while — and may well be better carried out by other parties, such as state and local authorities. Indeed, they’re already working on it.

Patrick BrennanPatrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

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