The Corner

Pelosi’s Shutdown Theater

Roll Call reports that Republicans are considering passing two budget bills, one that funds most of the government for the next year and one that that provides short-term funding for the immigration bureaucracy. I still think it’s a mistake to pass a funding covering most of the government for most of next year in the lame-duck session, because it cedes too much power to Senate Democrats and opens the door to more executive-branch unilateralism. But the argument against the strategy discussed in the article is not compelling.

Appropriators have warned that trying to defund the USCIS through a spending bill, as some conservatives have called for, is not a viable solution. Because the agency is funded through fees, changing its funding would require authorization language, and such language isn’t likely to survive a near-certain veto threat.

It’s true that a bill that restricts the bureaucracy’s ability to spend money to implement Obama’s new policy is unlikely to get signed by the president, and the bureaucracy can implement the policy if no bill passes. But the point of the bill is to register opposition to Obama’s policy early, and to avoid congressional complicity in that policy.

There may also be less than meets the eye to Nancy Pelosi’s announced opposition to the strategy. Most Democrats will surely vote against the second, smaller bill that includes restrictions on the president’s policy. I think they would have a hard time maintaining opposition to a bill that funds most of the government on the ground that it doesn’t include funding for an agency that is being treated in a separate bill, and doesn’t need the money anyway. Even the party’s friends in the press might not be able to spin that successfully.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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