By Doug Porter
Congressional Republicans are bracing for executive actions on immigration by President Obama in the very near future.
The GOP apparently feels some sort of sense of entitlement coming off the mid-term elections when voters repeated their usual pattern of increased support for the party not in the White House. (The last time that didn’t happen was 1998, when Republicans were busy trying to impeach President Bill Clinton.)
The President, who has lived through six years of GOP obstructionism, isn’t waiting any longer on this issue. Today we’ll take a look at what’s likely to happen politically in the coming weeks. Trust me, it’s going to be a very entertaining holiday season if you’re into politics.
The parameters of the pending executive actions are the subject of lots of “unofficial” leaks and rampant (as usual) speculation at Fox news. Suffice to say that somewhere between 3 and 10 million people will be affected. Despite the fact some shyster lawyers are already advertising assistance, the specifics of any Presidential action are yet to be determined.
Since the November elections the President has done a climate deal with China, endorsed net neutrality and is now poised to use the power of his office to bring millions of people out of the shadows. The opposition party leadership has been less-than -thrilled with these moves.
It’s important here to remember at this point that the Senate actually passed (with actual Republicans voting for it) a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June, 2013. The House GOP leadership has refused to even allow it to be put to a vote.
It’s also a good time to point out that executive actions on immigration are a regular occurrence in Washington DC. As the Center for American Progress points out:
Since Congress first passed a comprehensive immigration law—the Immigration and Nationality Act—in 1952, each of the 11 subsequent presidents, from President Dwight D. Eisenhower through President Barack Obama, have used their broad executive authority to address unanticipated situations affecting foreign nationals at home and abroad. These executive actions have filled gaps in legislation by permitting certain individuals to temporarily enter or remain in the United States when it serves the nation’s interests.
The UT-San Diego article presaging the local impacts of executive action on immigration points out that there are “an estimated 180,000 people — a number greater than the population of Escondido— are living in the county without documents, according to a report last year by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.”
So the President will at some point make his move on immigration. Then the fireworks begin. Let’s take a look around at the latest punditry on the subject. (Grab your popcorn!)
From Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine:
In the wake of the midterm elections, Republicans said they would prove they could govern. This did not, in contrast to the flickering hopes of bipartisans, mean that they would start passing business-friendly reform bills that Obama would sign. It meant they would keep the kooks locked in the basement. Republicans had swept the elections by making politics boring, relentlessly policing their nominees from uttering any controversial statements, and grinding Washington to a halt. The Republican plan for the next two years was continued, boring gridlock. No shutdowns, no impeachment.
But, just a week and a half after the elections, the kooks are pounding on the door.
…just a week and a half after the elections, the kooks are pounding on the door
Dozens of House Republicans have signed onto a letter from Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) that wants to include language in any funding bill that would block funds to implement any immigration actions from Obama. Congress must pass a funding measure by Dec. 11 to avert a government shutdown.
“Elections have consequences,” Salmon told reporters Friday. “The president needs to understand that.”
From E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post:
House Speaker John Boehner has said that President Obama would “poison the well” for legislative action on immigration reform by unilaterally issuing executive orders. But how can you poison a well that has already been filled with partisan cyanide?
Obama’s Republican critics say that his forceful approach on immigration, climate change and “net neutrality” show he isn’t paying attention to what the voters said in the midterm elections.
In truth, he is paying close attention to the feelings of a very important group of voters — the tens of millions who supported him two years ago but were so dispirited that they stayed away from the polls on Nov. 4. They are hoping Obama will show them that political engagement is worth the effort.
[the President] views the “now the well is poisoned” point being made by Republicans as laughable.
And here’s the Washington Post’s politics reporter Chris Cillizza:
Republicans ain’t happy — and they are likely to get a lot less happy over the next week or so. No matter what congressional response McConnell and Boehner craft — and they are undoubtedlylooking at their options — the most obvious and predictable outcome of Obama’s expected move on immigration is that any hope of bipartisanship on much of anything in the 114th Congress, set to convene in January, would probably be out of the question.
Obama knows that. And it would seem he doesn’t care. Or rather, he has made the calculation that the chances of genuine bipartisanship on virtually anything was so low in the first place that it didn’t make sense not to do what he believes is the right thing. The post-grand-bargain-collapse version of Obama is far less willing to extend his hand to Republicans — having, in his estimation, had it bitten so many times before. He views the “now the well is poisoned” point being made by Republicans as laughable.
So the GOP is actively considering two responses, both of which amount to pointing a gun at their own heads. The “mainstream” party leaders–although they’re not holding press conferences on this yet– are following the lead of the Heritage Foundation. On Friday the right-wing think tank issued a statement urging the GOP to block any long-term funding bill lest it be considered “a blank check for amnesty.”
Following the lead of curmudgeon columnist Charles Krauthammer, the more radical elements in Congress are ginning up the call for impeachment hearings. Leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, despite their efforts to control the loose cannons since just after the 2010 election, are largely powerless.
The frothing mess that is the GOP’s hard core constituency is already getting the pitchforks and torches ready.
The frothing mess that is the GOP’s hard core constituency is already getting the pitchforks and torches ready. The best possible scenario available to the party leadership post presidential action will be a shutdown.
Or maybe both. A shut-peachment.
(I haven’t been able to trace the source of this term, I didn’t invent it, although I wish I had)
NOTE: In case you haven’t guessed already, here’s the short version of my opinion on the subject: While managing the inflow immigrants to the United States is perhaps a desirable role for government, the reality is most immigration laws have emerged out of racist/nativist sentiments, going back (at least) to the Irish. I think contemporary posturings on this issue are a modern day litmus test on racism, and will continue to believe that until the day comes when the neanderthals on the right are considered to be and treated like extremists by both the news media and electoral parties.
UCSD Students Set Tuition Protest
Regents from the University of California are set to vote Tuesday on a proposal to increase tuition over the next five years. Assembly Speaker Tony Atkins has already said she’ll use her vote on the Board of Regents to say “no”, telling the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a hard pill to swallow.”
The Governor has also voiced opposition, pointing out what he’s says was an agreement with the UC not to hike tuition for five years in exchange for a 4 percent increase from the state for each of the next two years. University of California President Janet Napolitano says nobody in her administration can remember any “deal” not to raise tuition for the next two years.
All ten UC campuses will be hosting taking actions to tell the Regents to vote “no”, and stand in solidarity against potential tuition increases on Tuesday.
UCSD’s Associated Students has planned a “Sit In” on Library Walk – the main UCSD walk way– for Tuesday, November 17th at 11.30am. A press release from the ASUCSD says “Hundreds of student leaders, athletes, greeks, and activist will all come together to show that this affects all different types students.”
From George Skelton at the Los Angeles Times:
The day after the Nov. 4 election, UC President Janet Napolitano—a former Arizona governor and U.S. secretary of Homeland Security — stunned many by proposing tuition hikes of up to 5% in each of the next five years. By 2019, tuition could reach $15,564.
She said UC needs more money to pay for recent pay increases, including employee contract settlements, and help cover rising costs of retirement benefits.
Hello! There was a 20-year period, 1990 to 2010, when neither UC nor its employees contributed to their retirement system. Now students are supposed to help pay for the university’s long pension holiday?
On This Day: 1947 – With many U.S. political leaders gripped by the fear of communism and questioning citizen loyalties in the years following World War II, the Screen Actors Guild voted to force its officers to take a “non-communist” pledge. A few days earlier the Hollywood Ten were called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. 1973 – President Nixon told an Associated Press managing editors meeting in Orlando, FL, “people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.” 1988 – Benazir Bhutto became the first woman leader of an Islamic country. She was elected in the first democratic elections in Pakistan in 11 years.
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John Lawrence says
President Obama needn’t be concerned about Congress. After being ridiculed, humiliated and thwarted by them for the last six years, he should just go ahead and use his POWER, (executive privilege if you will), to do what he thinks right AND LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY. I think he’ll find that the Republicans are big bluffers and won’t do anything but fuss and fume and bloviate. Let them. I hope Obama rubs their noses in it.