So House Republicans will introduce legislation next month paving the way for a lawsuit designed to declare President Obama’s executive actions as an unconstitutional power grab. Speaker John Boehner’s memo says the lawsuit will “compel the president to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.”
Jonathan Capehart explains the legal argument that would give the House standing to sue, and argues that this is a prelude to impeachment. Dana Milbank notes that the accumulation of executive power is a real and long running problem, but suggests that Obama’s actions in particular come in response to the House GOP refusal, or inability, to participate in the basic give and take of governing.
Indeed, at a certain point, Boehner’s own lawsuit — putting its legal merits aside — will neatly reveal that to be the real problem here.
Paul Kane puts his finger on the nub of the matter: “Boehner declined to spell out which specific actions would be addressed in the suit.”
The lawsuit, Kane suggests, will at some point have to specify which executive actions by the president constitute a failure to “faithfully execute the laws of our country,” justifying this dramatic step by Republicans. Yet the raising of any specifics will only serve as a reminder of the fronts on which Republicans have refused to legislate.
Will the lawsuit cite Obama’s de-prioritization of deportations of DREAM kids? House Republicans have already voted to end that policy. But bringing it up again could help underscore that for all practical purposes, the GOP’s primary policy response to the immigration crisis has been to implicitly demand the deportation of as many kids and other low-level offenders from the interior as possible. Will the lawsuit cite Obama’s new EPA rules as evidence of flouting Congress, as Kane suggests? That could help underscore that Republicans refuse to legislate in the face of climate change, a reminder that the GOP remains the anti-science party.
Will the lawsuit cite Obama’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court or his vow of an executive order to ban workplace discrimination against gay and lesbian employees of federal contractors? That could help underscore that the House GOP won’t vote on a broader bill to end anti-gay workplace discrimination, which perhaps isn’t a good message for a party that wants to project inclusiveness and has even discussed being more solicitous towards young conservatives’ shifting attitudes on gay rights.
Of course, there’s always Obamacare! Given the audience for this lawsuit, focusing on Obama’s repeated changes to the law could prove to be just the right crowd-pleaser. But beyond that, this effort to scratch the GOP base’s impeachment itch — without going down that destructive path — would seem to risk reminding everyone else of all the areas where the GOP refuses to participate in basic legislating.
* HOUSE GOP LAWSUIT CARRIES POLITICAL RISKS: NBC’s First Read crew nails it:
With just 121 bills becoming law in the entire 113th Congress (compared with 136 at this point in the historically unproductive 112th Congress), they need something to show their constituents and base voters back home. “See, we’re standing up to the president,” they can say….While the lawsuit move will certainly fire up conservative voters almost four months out until the midterms, it does come at a risk for Republicans. With a summer that’s going to be dominated by hearings on Benghazi and the IRS — and now with a vote on this lawsuit coming next month — non-base voters can legitimately ask: What are you doing to improve our lives, help the economy, and make sure we have extra money in our pockets?
* OBAMA MOCKS CLIMATE-DENIALISTS: The President, at the League of Conservation Voters dinner last night, on the one-year anniversary of launching his climate-action plan:
“In Congress, folks will tell you climate change is a hoax, or a fad, or a plot. It’s a liberal plot. And then most recently, because many who say that actually know better and they’re just embarrassed, they duck the question. They say, ‘Hey, I’m not a scientist,’ which really translates into, ‘I accept that manmade climate change is real, but if I say so out loud, I will be run out of town by a bunch of fringe elements.'”
It’s possible the ranks of climate skeptics in the Senate will grow this year, since at least four GOP Senate candidates have dabbled in climate skepticism and Republicans are certain to gain seats. Of course, with our long term hopes now riding on Obama’s EPA push, Congress is increasingly irrelevant here.
* CONTROL OF SENATE STILL A TOSS-UP: National Journal is out with its new Senate race rankings, and the interesting nugget here is that the North Carolina Senate race is now ranked as more competitive than the Arkansas race, which reflects the growing sense that Mark Pryor — once thought to be deader than immigration reform — is very much alive.
The big picture looks the same: If Republicans don’t meaningfully broaden the map to Michigan, Colorado, or Iowa — which is up in the air — they will have to win six out of the seven core red state races. And that’s if Democrats don’t manage a surprise pickup in either Kentucky or Georgia. To be clear, that’s very doable for Republicans, and on balance I’d say they are still slightly favored to win control.
* REPUBLICANS PUNT ON SOLVING IMMIGRATION CRISIS: Benjy Sarlin makes a key point: If Republicans really cared about the humanitarian crisis of minors crossing the border, they could pass immigration reform:
If Republicans want to add detention centers, speed up removals, or change the procedures for handling unaccompanied minors, they might want to reopen immigration reform talks. The bipartisan Senate bill, passed one year ago this week, included funds to expand immigration courts and would have roughly doubled the size of the border patrol….Democrats would almost certainly agree to even more enforcement measures in exchange for some kind of legal status…But with reform dying, House Republicans seem content to return to their old pre-2012 policy of demanding more deportations.
Yup. As noted the other day, this episode is shaping up as yet another way in which Republicans are completely abdicating any participatory role in solving the broader immigration crisis the country faces.
* OBAMA TEAM DIVIDED OVER PROSECUTING BANKERS: Glenn Thrush has a nicely done profile of Eric Holder that reports the Attorney General hopes to close out Obama’s second term with a major progressive push on sentencing reform and gay rights. Key revelation: heading into the 2012 election Obama’s team was angry about the failure to prosecute Wall Streeters:
At one meeting in 2011, an exasperated Plouffe told a campaign aide, “We need fewer big speeches and more guys in suits being marched out in handcuffs,” according to an attendee. Holder resented the second-guessing. He didn’t need Plouffe to tell him it would be good politics to indict a Wall Street executive. His reaction to that kind of thing was, “No shit, but we don’t make charging decisions based on polling,” quipped a senior Justice Department official close to Holder.
One observer argues that the failure to hold more Wall Streeters accountable after the great crash will be a black mark on Holder’s — and Obama’s — legacy, with potential long term consequences.
* THE REAL LESSON OUT OF MISSISSIPPI: E.J. Dionne notes that Thad Cochran’s reliance on black Democrats to rescue him from a Tea Party challenge is being met with rage on the right, and offers this on what that really means:
This rancor could usefully challenge Republican leaders to grapple openly with the role of race within their coalition. And that a long-serving, quite conservative Republican senator could survive only by expanding the GOP electorate beyond the faithful is a reminder of just how conservative the party’s primary electorate has become. Broadening the party by admitting the inadequacy of anti-government shibboleths cannot be a one-state, one-time, one-incumbent proposition.
Something tells me the exact opposite lesson will be learned here.
* AND THIS IS SOME EPIC TROLLING, MY FRIENDS: In light of Cochran’s reliance on blacks, Derrick Johnson of the state’s NAACP is now asking Cochran to support efforts to patch the hole in the Voting Rights Act left by the SCOTUS decision:
“Our advocacy towards his office is to support amending the Voting Rights Act, free of any conditions such as voter ID,” Johnson said. “I think this is an opportunity for him to show some reciprocity for African-Americans providing a strong level of support for him.”
Yes, I’m sure Senator Cochran will get right on that.