Congressional Republicans are locked in an internal debate over a difficult dilemma: Is there any way of persuading conservatives they are fighting against Obama’s immigration tyranny with everything they’ve got, without fully using the destructive scorched earth tactics conservatives actually want them to employ against it?
This internal tactical struggle — and with it, the broader debate over immigration — are now set to spill over into the GOP presidential primary. Jeb Bush has now come out against the tactics conservatives want — which are favored by Ted Cruz.
Robert Costa and Ed O’Keefe report that House Republicans are closing in on a two-tiered response to Obama’s action shielding millions from deportation. They may pass one bill rolling back the action, which would die in the Dem Senate. Meanwhile they may pass something that funds most of the government over the long term, while passing short term funding bills in immigration enforcement areas, setting the stage for defunding confrontations designed to force Obama to drop executive action. Conservatives want GOP leaders to push the targeted defunding strategy as far as possible. It remains unclear whether GOP leaders will do their bidding. If they prematurely cave, they’ll likely argue that they tried to stop Obama but just can’t. The right would not buy it.
But according to Costa and O’Keefe, Jeb Bush is telling Republicans to forget about the confrontational route conservatives want, and try legislating instead:
At a private luncheon Monday on Capitol Hill, former Florida governor Jeb Bush told a group of GOP officials and donors, including soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, that the party should avoid a standoff.
Instead, Bush said in brief remarks, Republicans should pass a series of “sensible” immigration bills next year once they control both congressional chambers to underscore their commitment to governing and reforming the immigration system with their own policies.
The larger context here is important. Jeb Bush, you may recall, stirred up a searing debate among Republicans when he outrageously suggested that many undocumented immigrants, while undeniably lawbreakers, are in a morally complex situation (they are trying to provide for families and better their lives) and just might have something to contribute to American society. Given Bush’s suggestion that Republicans should legislate on this issue, a Bush presidential candidacy might force some sort of intra-GOP debate over what to do about the 11 million and whether Republicans can find a way to support some kind of legalization.
That question is one Republicans refuse to reckon with seriously, which has always been the primary obstacle to action on this issue — leading to the Obama tyranny they hate so much. But executive action has entrenched Republicans more deeply into a position where they are only advocating against what Obama is for. Republicans know they are against Obama’s deportation relief, yet continue to dodge on what should be done with all these people instead. Should we deport them all? Republicans won’t say. Legalize them? Perhaps, but only at some unspecified point later, if we meet unspecified conditions. Which means they are farther than ever from engaging this issue’s core moral and policy dilemmas. A Bush candidacy would be interesting: Even as he’d be relentlessly criticized for selling out to Obama’s “amnesty,” perhaps the resulting debate might challenge that GOP non-engagement.
* REPUBLICANS MAY ‘CENSURE’ OBAMA: Sahil Kapur reports that Congressional Republicans who are wary of the politics of impeaching Obama are considering a formal “censure” of the President for unilaterally shielding millions from deportation:
The “censure” strategy has much of the bombast of impeachment — a formal vehicle for Republicans to vent their disapproval of Obama, and throw red meat to the conservative base — without the risks of a politically nuclear confrontation that could backfire on them (not to mention, a guaranteed failure to obtain the two-thirds majority required in the Senate to remove the president from office).
Alternative suggestion: If Congress doesn’t like this executive action, it can try legislating or passing something to restrict this exercise of authority. By the way, Kapur notes the “censure” strategy may violate the Constitution that some Republicans carry around in their pockets.
* AMERICANS SHARPLY POLARIZED ON FERGUSON SHOOTING: A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that the American people lean slightly towards approving of the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, 48-45. Not surprisingly, the racial differences are stark: Whites approve of the decision by 58-35, while African Americans disapprove of it by 85-9.
Meanwhile, Republicans approve of the decision by 76-18, while Democrats disapprove of it by 68-27, meaning that even on this, Americans are polarized along partisan lines.
* WHY OBAMA ISN’T GOING TO FERGUSON: CNN reports the White House considered a presidential visit to the cite of the shooting of Michael Brown, but decided against it:
Because the issues that arose in Ferguson are more widespread than one incident in one community, the official said, White House advisers decided on what is described as a more comprehensive approach of convening a large group of stakeholders from cities around the country to tackle the issue in a more thorough manner. A trip to Ferguson has not been ruled out in the future. But it appears for now, the White House is opting for the route they are taking this week.
Indeed, there is only so much Obama can do about these “widespread” issues by talking; the exercise of governmental power is what’s required.
* HILLARY CALLS OUT CLIMATE DENIERS: This is good to see:
The possible 2016 presidential candidate praised the “unprecedented action” President Obama has taken on climate change, saying it “must be protected at all costs.”
“The science of climate change is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers may say, sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc,” Clinton said.
More on this at some point soon, but for now, it’s worth reiterating that for a variety of reasons climate change could be a key issue in the 2016 race.
* CONSERVATIVES PUSH ‘VOODOO’ ECONOMICS: The New York Times reports that conservatives are pushing Republicans to dump Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Elmendorf, and some Republicans want to institute “dynamic scoring,” i.e., making it easier to pay for tax cuts by factoring in revenues from projected runaway economic growth.
As I reported the other day, if this moves forward, Democrats will use it to reignite a big argument over Republican “trickle down” economic doctrine.
* THE PLUM LINE IS NOW ON FACEBOOK! No, really. Our page is right here. Please “like” us.
* AND REMEMBER THAT THING CALLED ‘EBOLA’? Sam Stein has a smart piece reporting that the Obama administration is working to remind everyone of that thing called the “Ebola” virus, which appears to have been forgotten, now that Republicans have stopped alluding to it as part of their midterm electoral strategy. As Stein reports, the Obama administration is worried that Republicans will ignore its request for billions in more funding to combat the disease.
Ebola? What’s Ebola?