Here we go again. The Republicans are divided on the $40 billion Department of Homeland Security Funding Bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell eventually arrived at the go no go point with the House’s bill which made the funding of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contingent upon the roll back of President Barack Obama’s executive order granting amnesty to close to 5 million illegal immigrants. With the February 27th DHS funding shutdown looming, he realized that there was no choice other than to de-couple the funding of DHS from the roll-back of the executive order. As the Senate Majority Leader, he is in a difficult position. He needs to pass meaningful legislation. And he has to get past the specter of the previous Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, where much was discussed but little got passed. Consequently, Majority Leader McConnell needs to choose his battles and work across the aisle as needed. The Senate agreed with the decoupling of DHS from the executive order roll-back and took steps to advance the legislation. The vote was 98-2 and it was delivered after Senator McConnell promised Democrats that he would permit amendments for legislation that would remove the language halting President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The Senate proposal does include a separate vote to block the President’s executive action on immigration, but this vote is likely to be blocked by Democrats. The bill has now gone to the House.
The conservatives are of course unhappy.
According to Representative Mo Brooks, (R-AL), “I think the American people and the members of the United States Congress are dissatisfied with any plan that does not stop the president’s illegal and unconstitutional conduct”. In order for the bill the pass, Democratic support needs to be obtained since so many Republicans oppose it. Having said that House Speaker John Boehner is unlikely to put the bill to floor vote because he realizes that such an action would infuriate the conservative base. The Republicans opposing the bill don’t seem concerned with the risk of a DHS shut down. They argue that the most critical DHS employees would still report to work even if there is a brief delay in their compensation schedule. DHS is hanging on by a thread because of the actions of President Obama. Let’s remember that DHS was established in the wake of 9/11 to provide greater security for our country through the use of better intelligence gathering, stronger agency collaboration and other improvements. Over the course of the last fourteen years DHS’s scope of responsibility has grown significantly. More importantly, it was President Obama’s actions which put DHS at risk. If President Obama had not granted amnesty to close to 5 million illegal immigrants, DHS funding would never have been in doubt. But once President Obama usurped his authority to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants without consulting congress, all bets were off. And when 26 states responded to this action with a lawsuit claiming that the executive action was unconstitutional, he wouldn’t back down. Last week, Federal Judge Andrew Hanen filed an injunction which temporarily halted the amnesty program which the Department of Justice appealed. But instead of letting the judicial process follow its course, President Obama requested that Judge Hanen let the amnesty programs continue while the case is being decided in court. Judge Hanen stated that he would not honor the request because the states challenging the executive order were given until the week of March 2 to respond. But once again, President Obama wouldn’t back down. He interfered with the judicial process by sending message to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that they better follow his executive order on amnesty or else with the statement “If somebody’s working for ICE … and they don’t follow the policy, there’s going to be consequences to it.” The President clearly has no regard for the Constitution despite his past experience as a professor of constitutional law. Furthermore, the amnesty coupled with a porous border increased our country’s vulnerability to national security threats. So when the DHS funding showdown between President Obama and John Boehner takes place, the President needs to remember that he is responsible for this crisis situation. The buck and the blame starts with him.
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