Today House GOP leaders are set to find out if they can pass a response to the border crisis that does not also include a measure to maximize future deportations from the interior.
Multiple reports indicate that House Republicans have hit on a solution to their problem: Conservatives don’t want to pass any funding to address the debacle unless it also blocks Obama’s program to defer the deportation of the DREAMers — an effort to constrain Obama’s coming executive action to expand deportation relief. The result is that Republicans may not be able to pass anything. Here’s the creative approach GOP leaders will employ to try to get past this hurdle:
The new plan, described by multiple GOP aides Wednesday evening, comes as House Republicans were unable to lock up 218 GOP lawmakers to vote for the $659 million emergency funding package.
On Wednesday evening, House GOP leadership was setting up a process that would schedule a Thursday vote on the Republican funding package. If it passes, the House would be required to vote on legislation targeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded from deportation hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who have grown up in the United States.
In other words, conservatives get their vote against DACA after, and only if, the House passes its solution to the border mess. I suspect this may be structured to avoid what could be a political debacle, had the votes been scheduled the other way around: House Republicans going home for August recess having voted only to sue the president and to maximize deportations from the interior, while failing to vote to solve the current crisis.
Amusingly enough, conservatives are already objecting to this approach. As Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler tweeted: “Even John Boehner has acknowledged DACA has “led directly” to border crisis. shouldn’t it be part of a bill to ADDRESS the problem?”
I don’t know if more conservatives will object along these lines, and it’s plausible that House Republicans will end up passing something. But this conundrum perfectly captures how Republicans have boxed themselves into a position where they must continue to call for more and more deportations. Given that GOP leaders absurdly blamed DACA — and Obama weakness and permissiveness on immigration — for the current border crisis for months, aren’t conservatives absolutely right to insist that voting against DACA be part of any solution? And so, GOP leaders have again created a problem for themselves by feeding the base’s preoccupations on this issue, because now they may have no choice but to do something that does further damage to the party over the long term with Latinos.
Ultimately, what’s really driving the conservative position on this is the idea that Republicans should not vote on anything that helps Obama clean up what they regard as “his mess,” unless perhaps it is packaged with a vote to rein in future Obama lawlessness and maximize deportations — which, to them, is apparently a sweetener. And that brings us to our next item.
[Update: And moments ago, the House GOP leadership announced it was shelving its border bill, because it can't pass. There you have it.]
* KRISTOL CALLS ON GOP TO DO NOTHING ON BORDER: Bill Kristol, who was admirably honest back in the 1990s, about the GOP motive for killing health reform, comes through again, laying bare what’s really going on here with a piece calling on Republicans to pass nothing today:
If the GOP does nothing, and if Republicans explain that there’s no point acting due to the recalcitrance of the president to deal with the policies that are causing the crisis, the focus will be on the president. Republican incumbents won’t have problematic legislation to defend or questions to answer about what further compromises they’ll make. Republican challengers won’t have to defend or attack GOP legislation. Instead, the focus can be on the president — on his refusal to enforce the immigration law, on the effect of his unwise and arbitrary executive actions in 2012, on his pending rash and illegal further executive acts in 2014, and on his refusal to deal with the real legal and policy problems causing the border crisis. And with nothing passed in either house (assuming Senate Republicans stick together and deny Harry Reid cloture today), immigration won’t dominate August—except as a problem the president is responsible for and refuses seriously to address. Meanwhile, the GOP can go on the offensive on a host of other issues.
The president’s approval rating is slipping to historic lows. Let it continue to slide. Don’t bail him out by jamming though a bill that divides Republicans, will confuse voters, won’t become law anyway, muddies responsibility for the border fiasco, and takes the spotlight off what should be the focus of the August recess — President Obama’s failed policies and Congressional Democrats’ support for them.
The fact that Obama’s approval on immigration has plummeted will no doubt give this idea more appeal among Republicans. But once again, what really matters over the long term is what Latinos think about it — and Republicans will have failed to vote to do anything to legalize the 11 million and refused to respond to the current child migrant crisis.
* HOUSE BILL WOULD BLOCK OBAMA EXECUTIVE ACTIONS: Byron York explains what’s in the bill that will get a vote today:
The bill says that “unless explicitly authorized by law” — that is, unless Congress authorizes it — the federal government may not issue any “guidance, memorandums, regulations, policies, or other similar instruments” that would expand the number of illegal immigrants eligible for deferred action under President Obama’s 2012 executive order that stopped deportations of some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. The bill would also bar any part of the federal government from “newly authoriz[ing] deferred action for any class of aliens not in lawful immigration status in the United States.” And it would bar the government from “newly authoriz[ing] any alien to work in the United States” if that person is in the country illegally.
As I’ve noted here, the House GOP already voted to end DACA; this is only further confirmation that on immigration, the GOP remains the party of Ted Cruz and Steve King.
* HOUSE GOP LAWSUIT ALL ABOUT SHORT TERM POLITICS: Late yesterday the House voted to authorize the lawsuit against the president, and the Post overview makes this key point:
If the federal courts take up the matter, it could take years to reach conclusion and may have a larger impact on setting the parameters of the balance between the next president and Congress. The short-term impact will be the political jockeying in the next three months.
Plainly, this is all about feeding the base heading into the 2014 elections. But that isn’t to say it might not have long term importance. But it may amount to nothing at all — and if so, we won’t know this until long after it has already served its short term purpose.
* WHY HOUSE GOP IS SUING PRESIDENT: Brendan Nyhan gets to the heart of it: While even many Republicans oppose impeaching Obama, polling shows a lawsuit is a way to scratch that impeachment itch that has broader support among Republicans and even unites them:
The proposed Republican lawsuit against Mr. Obama for his handling of the health care law is much more effective at consolidating the Republican base. Though only 41 percent of Americans over all support a lawsuit, that total includes three in four G.O.P. identifiers — a total that almost matches Democratic opposition of 84 percent.
Gotta keep that base in a rage right through Election Day!
* GET READY FOR A SHIFT IN 2014 POLLS: Scott Clement and Peyton Craighill explain it: Pretty soon, pollsters will shift to a “likely voter” screen, which may well show a bump up in the prospects of GOP Senate candidates, because of the Dems’ midterm voter dropoff problem. This is certainly important in what it says about the state of the midterm electorate. But as they note, this could create an impression of momentum for Republicans that isn’t there.
* GOP KEEPS IMPEACHMENT CHATTER ALIVE: With many pundits moaning that Dems are to blame for keeping impeachment chatter alive for base-energizing purposes, E.J. Dionne recaps the ways Republicans are, in fact, talking impeachment, and observes:
John Boehner is having trouble countering fears that House Republicans will eventually try to oust the president because the speaker’s colleagues have spent years tossing around impeachment threats as a matter of routine.
But but but Dems are fundraising off of this! Outrageous!