Senator Barbara Mikulski (D., MD.), chairman of the appropriations committee, “desperately wants” to pass an omnibus bundle of appropriations bills before Republicans take formal control of the Senate next year, according to a senior GOP Senate aide, but that is increasingly unlikely.
House Republicans are likely to pass a short-term continuing resolution to fund government into the new year, according to the aide. At that point, the Republican-controlled Congress would have three options for responding to President Obama’s imminent executive orders to provide illegal immigrants with the benefits of legal migration.
“We could do a CR for the rest of the fiscal year so we could start the next year’s appropriations; we could do an omni for the rest of this fiscal year; or we could do an omni that funded everything except for the departments that deal with immigration,” the senior aide tells National Review Online. “And then we could do a separate bill that had funding restrictions on that, so that the only thing he would be vetoing is those departments — which I think is somewhat clever, but he’d veto it nonetheless.”
The aide said that “those are the three realistic ideas that I think everybody would agree are the three” options if the GOP does not pass an omnibus in the lame-duck session. In any case, Republicans will not try to fight Obama’s amnesty before next year because outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) still has the authority to ensure that such a bill never receives a vote.
“Senator Reid, who has ball control as majority leader, would simply call up a substitute amendment that fully funded the government and had no DACA restrictions,” the aide says, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Obama created in 2012 and is expected to expand to benefit millions of adults.
Of course, any effort to thwart Obama’s amnesty plans would still have to pass through the Senate and survive Obama’s veto pen to take effect as law. Republicans are optimistic that enough Senate Democrats will join them to break a filibuster, but they don’t expect to receive the 13 Democratic votes that would be necessary to override Obama’s veto.
That doesn’t mean that there is no value in passing such legislation. “Whether the president vetoes that or not, I think that’s an important fight to have,” the aide says. “Remember, Nancy Pelosi said that if Congress passes a bill, some people notice it; if the president vetoes a bill, the world notices.”