Support builds in GOP for government shutdown over Obama immigration orders
Momentum is building in the House in the GOP caucus to attach a rider to the Continuing Resolution that would fund the government until the end of the fiscal year that would defund agencies charged with implementing President Obama's coming executive orders on immigration.
The amendment would almost certainly be unacceptable to Democrats in the Senate. This would set up a showdown with the White House, giving President Obama and the Democrats the option of failing to fund the government past December 12, leading to a shutdown.
“I am insisting on that [rider] because the president is violating his executive privilege,” GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, who represents the border state of Arizona, said in an interview Friday.
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) called the plan to block the executive action through the government-funding bill “a great idea.” Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who defeated then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the June GOP primary in part by accusing his opponent of supporting “amnesty,” said he also backed the proposal.
Asked if a government shutdown would be worth halting Obama's immigration action, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) replied: “When you take an oath to uphold the Constitution, it is not appropriate to contemplate the political consequences. You should uphold the Constitution come what may.”
The call to arms by conservatives is a challenge for GOP leaders in both chambers, who also oppose executive action by Obama but acknowledge they have not settled on a plan to stop it.
“There’s no decision on the strategy, but we know for one thing that the president should not move forward,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Friday.
It’s unclear what Obama will do, but reports this week that he is considering expanding an existing program that defers the deportation of children who entered the U.S. illegally to both their parents and additional children have provoked outrage on the right.
Obama’s proposals could give legal status to 5 million people, some reports suggest.
Republicans say there’s no consensus in the broader GOP conference about how to respond when Obama issues his executive order as early as next week.
Just a year ago, conservative Republicans led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz closed the government for 16 days in a failed bid to defund ObamaCare. GOP leaders taking over the Senate would like to avoid a repeat of that scenario.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed Thursday that Republicans would not shut down the government or default on the nation’s debt.
But hours later, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), fresh off winning another two years in the top spot, said the GOP would “fight tooth and nail” to stop Obama and that all options remained on the table.
Senior GOP aides said the Republican response could be a combination of blocking executive-branch nominees when Republicans take over the Senate next year and expanding a GOP lawsuit against Obama to cover his immigration action.
The divide appears to be between the realists and the ideologues. The realist position, as stated by Rep. Cole:
“I don’t blame people for being mad and proposing ideas,” Cole said. “I personally think it’s just a losing strategy. It didn’t work for ObamaCare. There’s no way it’s going to work here… My view is shutting down the government is never the appropriate remedy.”
The ideologues don't care if it can be done, or what the politics of the tactic would be. They want the GOP on record saying that the executive orders are unconstitutional.
It's probable that Boehner will be able to whip a clean CR through the House, although he will allow a vote on the amendment to defund agencies involved in implementing the coming executive orders. He knows that proponents of the rider don't have 217 votes, so allowing a symbolic vote on agency defunding would satisfy at least some of the conservatives who are agitating for a shutdown.