Obstruction from the left? Must be a day ending in -y.
For the third time in a row, Senate Democrats have blocked floor debate on a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security after February 27. The problem? The piece of legislation Republicans are trying to pass contains provisions blocking Obama’s 2012 and 2014 amnesty plans from being implemented.
Senate Republicans have pushed multiple times for a vote on the controversial House bill, highlighting their commitment both to keeping DHS funded, and preventing executive amnesty from becoming reality.
One reason for the multiple votes is so Senate GOP leaders can showcase for House Republicans that despite their efforts to pass the House bill, it can’t get enough Democratic votes to pass in the Senate as long as it carries the immigration provisions. That might force House Republicans to rethink their position on immigration and decide to take that fight up later.
“Part of coming to a solution is going to be showing that we’re doing our best to fight for the House position,” said Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican told reporters on Wednesday after the second vote.
It remains unclear how House and Senate Republican leaders will reach a solution that can meet the differing political needs of each chamber. Multiple House Republican members told CNN the focus now is to increase the pressure on the Senate to figure out a way to pass the measure.
Important point: Reid’s caucus didn’t just vote against this bill—they blocked it from even coming to the floor to be discussed. When it comes to immigration, Democrats don’t want to talk about it unless they can guarantee a winning message they can splash across the top of their fundraising e-mails.
This makes sense, considering former immigration officials have now come out to blast the amnesty plans as a death sentence for agencies tasked with making sure things run smoothly. Who wouldn’t want to force the focus on a radical Republican agenda, as opposed to the impending implosion of progressive immigration policy?
This isn’t just about getting a vote on a bill; it’s about making any progress at all on funding DHS, and rolling back Obama’s executive amnesty:
Democrats have also argued that Obama has said he would veto the bill, and say Republicans should therefore move a bill that doesn’t attack Obama’s immigration move if they want to ensure funding for DHS.
But Republicans have made it clear they are trying to return to a time when the Senate didn’t simply take its cues from the White House, and worked on legislation on its own terms. On the floor today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats should vote to advance the bill, since that would start a process of considering various amendments to it.
After that, McConnell said any differences between the House and Senate bills would be worked out in what’s called a “conference,” an event that used to be routine but is now rare.
“It would allow us to have a fair amendment process. If there are differences with the House regular order, there’s a remedy. It’s called going to conference,” McConnell said.
“None of this is possible while the Democrats continue to filibuster even getting on the bill,” he added.
This is par for the course for this group of Democrats, and I think McConnell is playing this well. Right now, Reid and his caucus are executing a procedural pout over the very idea that Republicans would challenge Obama’s last best hope for legacy legislation. (Obamacare is on fire—they know this, which is why they’re protecting immigration so fiercely.) GOP leadership knows this, and they also know that they don’t have enough of a majority to dive headfirst into something more radical than what the House sent over. By promoting these votes—and Democrat obstruction—and invoking the dark specter of conference committees, Republicans are sending a signal to the White House that they’re willing to let the Democrats obstruct their way into an ugly policy battle.
Reid insists that he’s interested in debate, but every move he makes proves that he’s only interested in debate on his terms. Whether or not a cleaner bill will surface remains to be seen; but even if that does happen, and Republicans choose an incremental approach to rolling back the amnesty plans, Democrats will still have to cross the aisle and sign on to a compromise plan if they want to keep the money flowing to Homeland Security.
During a press conference today, House Speaker John Boehner spent time dodging questions from an increasingly impatient press pool about the future of funding for DHS and the battle over immigration. (Start the video at around 19:35):
“Senator McConnell is trying to win the fight that we won in the House. … The House fought this fight. We won this fight. Now it is time for Senate Democrats to work with Senate Republicans to stop the President’s unilateral actions with regard to immigration.”
Reporter: “Yeah, but three times is the charm. What is next? I mean, they are voting on it right now. It is not going to happen.”
“Why are you asking me? You should be asking Senate Democrats. Why do they continue to block the consideration of the bill?”
The House may be putting public pressure on Senate Republican leadership to get this bill passed, but with regards to messaging about the problems with the bill’s progress, both chambers are absolutely united. It’s the Democrats who refuse to go to work. It’s the Democrats who don’t want to talk about funding Homeland Security. It’s the Democrats who refuse to accept the decision the American people made during the midterms.
Elections have consequences, and right now, Harry Reid is beginning to understand exactly what that means for his spiraling agenda.DONATE
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