About three weeks ago, Republicans swept into power in a massive wave that caught even most optimists off guard. From the federal level down to local governments, Republicans were ushered in, and Democrats were ushered out of power. The next day, Democrats in Washington claimed the message from the election is that the parties in Washington need to work together. But now, President Obama has declared he will grant amnesty for millions of illegal aliens by fiat.
In 2011, President Obama said he did not have that power. His specific words were, “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case. … There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.”
He won re-election a year later with the public thinking he could not unilaterally grant amnesty. When he then declared he could and would, his party was ousted in defeat. The Republicans, however, have no will to fight the president.
In 2013, Barack Obama shut down the government. Sen. Ted Cruz got the blame. Even Republican leaders ran from Sen. Cruz and his conservative colleagues with hair-on-fire hysteria. They blamed Cruz in 2013 for the Republicans losing the Senate in 2014. They said Cruz would cause the GOP to lose governorships, seats in the House of Representatives, etc. None of that happened.
Gallup polling after the election shows pretty clearly the public wants the Republican Party to restrain President Obama. Polling also shows a majority of Americans oppose unilateral presidential action on amnesty.
But the Republicans will not fight. In fact, what the Republicans are proposing as a strategy to combat the president is to let it happen, and then go through an elaborate theater to let it keep happening. They will, once they have fully funded the government, try to undo the funding. This is called a rescission. But the president will veto it and the Republicans will fail to override the vote, so Republicans can say they opposed the president, but funded him nonetheless.
Likewise, the House Appropriations Committee has already come out with a statement saying there is nothing they can do. “The primary agency for implementing the president’s new immigration executive order is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This agency is entirely self-funded through the fees it collects on various immigration applications. Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the “E-Verify” program. Therefore, the Appropriations process cannot be used to “de-fund” the agency,” a committee statement read.
In other words, Congress has the power to spend money, but cannot stop spending money. This explains so much.
There are two things really happening. First, many Republicans in Washington actually agree with the president. Most of the Republicans want amnesty. They may disagree with the means by which the president seeks amnesty, but they will not oppose him because they agree with the outcome.
Second, some Republicans are tired of the fight. They truly believe the public still hates them for shutting down the government in 2013. Consequently, they have no will to fight now. They are scared, feel unloved and have no energy for the fight. They cannot do what the public wants because they think the public will not love them for doing so.
The larger issue will never even get addressed, but it is perhaps the most significant. In 2011, President Obama said he had no power to do what he has now done. It is an overreach of his constitutional authority. It breaches the checks and balances the founders put in place. If this Congress has no will to stop him, can any president be stopped when his own party does what is political but not constitutional?
Deep down, Republicans are relieved the president has taken this issue from them, and they would prefer to ignore the related constitutional issues.