Ad

dhs

Mar 062015
 

By Rob Bluey — March 06, 2015

Days after President Obama delivered his Nov. 20 speech outlining executive actions on immigration, conservatives pressed Republican leaders to wage a fight while the issue was fresh on the minds of voters.

The Capitol building is in disrepair.  Will it ever shine again as a beacon of freedom?

The Capitol building is in disrepair. Will it ever shine again as a beacon of freedom?

 

Republicans had just made historic electoral gains in the House and taken control of the Senate. Meanwhile, seven Senate Democrats were on the record voicing concerns about Obama’s unilateral move.

But when lawmakers had the opportunity in early December to stymie Obama’s moves by withholding funding, they punted. Congress approved the so-called “CRomnibus,” which funded the federal government for the full fiscal year and the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27.

“Come January, we’ll have a Republican House and a Republican Senate—and we’ll be in the stronger position to take actions,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a Dec. 4 press conference.

The strategy, proposed by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., and embraced by Republican leadership, ultimately failed to undo Obama’s actions. This week, a majority of Republicans in the House (167 of 245) and Senate (31 of 54) opposed the Homeland Security bill, forcing GOP leaders to rely on Democrats to pass the measure.

“Unfortunately, leadership’s plan was never to win this fight,” said Sen. Ted Cruz. “Since December, the outcome has been baked in the cake. It was abundantly clear to anyone watching that leadership in both houses intended to capitulate on the fight against amnesty. It was a strategy doomed to failure.”

The Texas Republican was among the most vocal critics of Obama’s immigration actions, invoking Cicero’s warning to the Romans as he railed against the president’s “lawlessness.”

 

Even though a court case could still derail Obama’s actions, conservatives voiced disappointment with the outcome in Congress. Yet not everyone walked away surprised by how it played out.

The Daily Signal interviewed several of those lawmakers to better understand how events transpired after Obama’s Nov. 20 announcement through Tuesday’s vote.

Republicans United, Then Divided

Just weeks after Republicans swept the midterm elections, Obama outlined executive actions that he would take without congressional approval to defer deportations for up to 5 million illegal immigrants.

Obama’s move sparked a swift rebuke from Republican leaders. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the soon-to-be majority leader, and Boehner vowed to fight Obama using their new clout.


 “We’re considering a variety of options,” McConnell said on Nov. 20. “But make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act.”


Within a matter of weeks, however, Republicans found themselves divided over the strategy.

Republican leaders settled on a plan known as the “CRomnibus” to fund the federal government. As part of the package, the Department of Homeland Security would be funded through Feb. 27, giving Republicans an opportunity to fight Obama’s actions when they controlled both houses of Congress.

“We were the ones back on Dec. 7 telling leadership not to do this,” Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, told The Daily Signal. “We were the ones who told them this was doomed for failure and we warned them this was going to lead to capitulation at the end of the fight.”

Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho exposed the doomed strategy.

Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho exposed the doomed strategy.

 

Conservatives weren’t united around a particular strategy but many of them had alternatives to the plan leadership ultimately pursued. Some wanted to have the fight in December, risking a government shutdown before Christmas, while others suggested a short-term funding plan for the whole government until early 2015.

Many conservatives didn’t like attaching the immigration fight to Homeland Security funding. Some, including Labrador, even took the rare step of opposing leadership on a Dec. 11 procedural vote that nearly failed when 16 Republicans broke ranks. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., later accused GOP leaders of misleading him into switching his decisive vote.

Had conservatives blocked the spending bill on that vote, it would have forced leadership to revise the strategy.

“From the onset, we really believed it was a poor strategy,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz.

Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of The Heritage Foundation, expressed similar concerns at the time.

“Some have suggested the short-term funding for DHS will provide conservatives another opportunity to block President Obama’s actions in early 2015, but that approach is problematic,” the organization noted in a key vote alert.

Among the reasons: Republicans would be approving, at least temporarily, Obama’s executive actions, and waiting 100 days until Feb. 27 would allow the administration to get the program up and running.

“The tactic in Washington, D.C., is what they call defer and delay,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told The Daily Signal. “If they can defer the decision and delay the decision, then the passion and outcry of American people lessens. They’re able to capitulate and pass something that is certainly not as representative of the people’s will as it might be when the action initially takes place.”

Disagreement Over Strategy

Several of the lawmakers who spoke to The Daily Signal voiced concerns about leadership’s strategy.

“We’ve been through this time after time,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La. “We’ve heard the same promises and we’ve seen the same poor results. We’ve come to understand how it works. There are promises to fight but yet the process is created in a way that eventually there’s going to be a cave.”

Rep. John Fleming, R-La said that the writing was on the wall.

Rep. John Fleming, R-La said that the writing was on the wall.

 

Fleming said conservatives’ frustration led to the creation of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 30-some members who have vowed to be united on these fights in the future.

This week’s vote was the group’s first test and members of the caucus were optimistic about their impact, even if the outcome wasn’t ideal.

Salmon noted that Republican leadership urged members to vote in favor of the “clean” Homeland Security funding bill, which included no language defunding Obama’s actions. A majority of Republicans ultimately voted against the measure Tuesday.

“When 167 Republicans ignore leadership’s recommendations, that’s got to be a big wake-up call,” Salmon told The Daily Signal. “They voted with us, not with them.”

The Freedom Caucus also put forward several ideas for GOP leaders to consider during the standoff. None of their ideas were embraced, prompting Labrador to rethink the group’s approach next time.

“We need to get our message out, not just to the media but also to the other conference members,” Labrador said. “Every time I told other Republicans about our offers, they were stunned our leadership didn’t accept them. And I’m talking across the spectrum—conservatives and moderates.”

A spokesman for Boehner said the speaker welcomed ideas from members.

“Our strategy was developed working with and listening to our members,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “This fight was won in the House. Ultimately, we’re going to have to find a strategy to put more pressure on Senate Democrats in the future.”

Will Anything Change?

“Why does our leadership always do the same thing and expect a different outcome?” asked Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan. “They do the same thing knowing it’s going to be the same results.”

Huelskamp, who has been stripped of committee assignments for voting against leadership, was one of a dozen members attacked in ads from the pro-leadership American Action Network. A spokesman for the group, which supported the Homeland Security funding bill, did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

Meadows, the North Carolina conservative, was also targeted by the group’s ads.

“The American people have had enough,” Meadows said. “I’ve had dozens of emails since the vote saying, ‘Why should I vote for another Republican when the results are the same?’ That’s troubling for me.”

Salmon shared a similar sentiment.

“The American people are not going to continue to be patient,” he said. “If we have any chance at all of maintaining the Senate and winning the White House, we have got to prove that we are the real deal.”

Despite the frustration, Boehner and McConnell’s jobs appear safe, even if members are displeased with their handling of the immigration fight.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, are partners in the duping of the Americans who cast their votes and empowered them to double-cross us.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, are partners in the duping of the Americans who cast their votes and empowered them to double-cross us.


 “The speaker said, I’m going to fight tooth and nail. What that means to me is no stone unturned. Every option on the table. And that’s certainly not what happened,” Salmon said.


 Huelskamp said Republicans managed to give away the only leverage they had to stymie Obama. With no more spending fights until this fall, he fears the president will be emboldened to take unilateral action on other issues.

Meadows suggested the White House is already signaling its next move.

“It doesn’t stop here with amnesty. The same day we’re debating amnesty, the White House is talking about taking action to increase taxes,” Meadows said. “It’s just a total breakdown of a wall of separation of powers of the executive branch and legislative branch.”

While the fight over Obama’s immigration actions now plays out in court, Huelskamp predicted the party’s establishment will ultimately prevail this time.

“The biggest donors to the Republican establishment, they all are happy today. They got their amnesty,” Huelskamp said. “They just hope the issue goes away and somehow they think conservatives are still going to show up and vote for whoever the presidential nominee is.”

This story was updated to include additional details about the December debate over the GOP’s strategy.

 

via Conservatives Fault GOP Leadership After DHS Funding Fight.

Mar 052015
 

By Susan Ferrechio — March 5, 2015

A beleaguered House Speaker John Boehner is suddenly relying on Democrats rather than his fellow Republicans.

john-boehner-speaker-of-the-house-spineless-sellout

For the second day in a row, Wednesday, his House leadership team turned to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats to help pass major legislation and overcome determined opposition from dozens of GOP conservatives.

It’s a far cry from January, when Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress, and Boehner, R-Ohio, returned to Capitol Hill buoyed by expectations of a fruitful relationship with the new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

And conservatives fear it will swing the Republican agenda to the left, and push them permanently to the sidelines.

“We were hoping to move everything to the right, “Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told the Washington Examiner after casting a “no” vote on a bill authorizing spending on Amtrak, which passed with overwhelming Democratic support and substantial Republican opposition. “Looks like to me they are moving it to the Left. They’ve given up on us so they are going to the Democrats to get votes.”

The House easily passed the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act, which cuts federal funding authorization for Amtrak by 40 percent, but did not go far enough for conservatives. It also, reforms the railway’s accounting system so that the profitable Northeast corridor routes can keep and reinvest more money.

The bill passed 316 to 101, but 184 of the votes to pass it came from Democrats. The legislation, opposed by fiscal hawks at such organizations as Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, got 132 GOP votes, but 101 Republicans, including eight committee chairmen, voted against it. Those opponents came mostly from the party’s right wing, and Rep. Tom McClintock of California had earlier in the day tried to amend the bill to end federal subsidies for passenger rail entirely.

The vote came just one day after House Republican leaders pushed through a key bill with the votes of Democrats rather than of their own conference members. Tuesday’s bill funded the Department of Homeland Security until Sept. 30 without curbing President Obama’s executive order shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. In that vote, too, conservatives were sidelined.

The $40 billion Homeland Security measure came to the floor after Boehner allegedly cut a deal with Pelosi, D-Calif., last week.

Boehner is looking more like the Benedict Arnold of Republican Party

Boehner is looking more like the Benedict Arnold of Republican Party

“Who is really running the floor over here?” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., said. “John Boehner has so lost control of the House. He has to call Nancy Pelosi.”

Republican leadership aides deny a move to shift the legislation to the left in order to win over Democrats and skirt conservative opposition.

Before agreeing to a “clean” bill, Boehner spent weeks holding out for a Homeland Security bill that defunded Obama’s executive actions.

“The speaker and our entire leadership team’s goal is always to work with the entire House Republican conference to get the best possible conservative public policy,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told the Washington Examiner.

But dozens of conservative lawmakers have been making it difficult for House Republican leaders.

Last week, conservative opposition forced House GOP leaders to pull legislation from the floor that would have revamped the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act. Conservatives said it did not go far enough to free local education from federal control. Now the bill’s future is uncertain.

More conservative opposition lies ahead as lawmakers begin grappling with whether to restore spending hikes that were capped under the 2011 Budget Control Act, also known as the sequester. Conservatives don’t want to lift the budget caps imposed by the law, while other Republicans are in favor of lifting the caps to allow more government spending, particularly for defense.

Conservatives are also likely to oppose raising the nation’s debt limit once again, which will be on the table this summer.

Some Republicans say the conservative opposition means the GOP leadership has little choice but to partner with Democrats.

Boehner and Obama playing golf.... - We should have taken him out when we had the chance.

Boehner and Obama playing golf…. – We should have taken him out when we had the chance.

“These are difficult choices for the Republican leadership,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., told the Examiner. “Congress has not been productive. They are trying to show the American people we can move things forward in a positive fashion. The reality of it is, sometimes you have to compromise.”

Republicans on Wednesday touted the Amtrak bill as a modernization and reform measure for the money-losing passenger rail system.

The bill authorizes a pilot program that would allow private companies to take over some rail routes and implements new taxpayer safeguards.

Lawmakers from both parties cheered the legislation on the House floor as an example of Congress steering clear of the gridlock that has become customary and passing a bill that has a chance of becoming law.

“Considering what is going on in Congress now, this bill is my idea of a perfect situation,” Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., said. “We didn’t get everything we wanted, they didn’t get some of the amendments they wanted, yet we are moving forward.”

Fire Boehner1But conservatives were fuming.

The legislation was a capitulation to Democrats, they said, because it doesn’t cut actual spending on Amtrak, (authorization merely approves funding). Amtrak funding has remained at about $1.4 billion. And the pilot privatization program involves only two routes.

The bill authorizes $7.2 billion in spending on Amtrak and other rail programs through 2019.

Conservatives said it cost too much.

“We are forgetting our core principles as a party,” Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., warned, as he headed in to vote against the bill. “And I think you need to lead with those core principles. If Boehner continues to reach out to Democrats to pass legislation, it’s going to continue to divide the party. Not just here, but across the nation.”

 

via Has Boehner taken left turn? | WashingtonExaminer.com.

Jan 172015
 

By ALLAHPUNDIT — January 16, 2015

He starts with 54 votes in the Senate, needing 60 and knowing that centrist Democrats don’t want to cross their own party on a bill that’s only going to end up being vetoed anyway.

Mitch McConnell showing how many of his promises he is going to keep....

Mitch McConnell showing how many of his promises he is going to keep….

Without those Democrats, the only leverage the GOP has is to refuse to fund Homeland Security until Obama agrees to scale back his executive action on immigration — however long that takes. That is to say, the “power of the purse” is really just a euphemism for the power to shut down the government, or part of the government. Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that they refuse to exercise that power.

In which case, what’s left?

McConnell did not provide a path forward Thursday in the likely case that the House bill fails. Passing the House bill would “be our first choice,” McConnell said. “If we’re not able to do that, then we’ll let you know what’s next.” ( total capitulation)

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune declined to say Thursday whether the upper chamber would pass a clean funding bill for the department if the House legislation stalls in the Senate, but added: “We recognize the important role that the Department of Homeland Security plays in this country.”…

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, outlined the debate ahead of Thursday afternoon’s panel. “None of us want to see DHS face any kind of a shutdown threat. Too important,” he said. “But we also want to make sure we have done all we can to get the president to work with us rather than go around Congress and around the American people through his executive actions.”

If you won’t take Thune’s and Portman’s words for it, just listen to John Cornyn, McConnell’s top deputy in the Senate:

“The expectation by the rank and file in the House is it’s not going to come back even remotely similar to what we sent over there. And there is a real reticence by members of our conference to allow the funding to lapse,” [one House Republican] lawmaker added…

No more drama associated with shutting down, for example, the Department of Homeland Security. That’s off the table,” Cornyn told reporters.

“Under no circumstances will we see any shutdowns,” he said.

 

John-CornynAnd that’s that. Even if the bill passes the Senate, it’s a mortal lock that Obama will veto it. Now here’s the Senate majority whip all but telling you that if that happens, if O forces the GOP to decide between a DHS shutdown and a “clean” bill that funds Homeland Security with no concessions whatsoever on amnesty — a total capitulation by Republicans — they’ll choose the latter.

All of this was entirely foreseeable when the GOP passed the “cromnibus,” setting up a showdown with the White House on DHS funding. McConnell and Cornyn have spent the two months since election day telling every reporter who’ll listen that job one for the new Senate majority is showing Americans it can govern. No more shutdowns, no more debt-ceiling standoffs. Message: It’s safe to elect a Republican president in 2016 and let the GOP control all of government. So what does the House do with the last major bill of the lame-duck session? They set up a shutdown-or-bust choice for the party on amnesty, an issue that’s laser-hot with their own base. Mystifying.

Let me repeat a prediction I made a few weeks ago, then: Precisely because the base is paying close attention, they won’t settle for a “clean” funding bill either. There’s a “security first” bill coming on immigration reform. The only question is when.

Leaders have tried to reassure colleagues worried about illegal immigration by pledging action on legislation to secure the border and strengthen enforcement policies against illegal residents. 

“Step 1 is to pass pretty much all of [Homeland Security Committee Chairman] Mike McCaul’s [R-Texas] border security bill. That’s the first step we’ll take,” said Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas).

McConnell might get 60 votes for a security bill. Centrist Dems like Claire McCaskill fear a backlash from their party

Claire McCaskill - Can you say RINO?

Claire McCaskill – Can you say RINO?

if they humiliate Obama by voting against amnesty, but security at the border and in the interior U.S. is a regular feature of the comprehensive immigration reform bills that Democrats routinely vote for. They won’t be crossing O by supporting it. They will be reducing their party’s leverage over comprehensive reform by supporting only the Republican-favored security half of it, but that matters less after Obama’s amnesty than it used to do.

The legalization half of comprehensive reform has already been enacted: The GOP, by refusing to shut down DHS, will be effectively agreeing to legalization via executive order. That’s not a perfect deal for Democrats — a “security

first” bill will have the force of statutory law whereas O’s legalization order could be undone by the next president — but everyone understands at this point, I think, that no successor from either party is going to undo O’s order. The politics are too tough. So yeah, McConnell might well get 60 for “security first.” The question is, would Obama-Mitch-Mcconnell

Obama sign a bill like that? And if he won’t, knowing that the GOP has essentially forfeited its power of the purse by forfeiting their power to shut down parts of the government, what leverage will they have to force him to sign?

 

via McConnell to conservatives: We’ll do our best to stop Obama’s executive amnesty but don’t expect miracles, okay? « Hot Air.