By Tom Hebert
After an absolutely brutal shellacking in the 2014 midterm elections, President Obama was despondent. Republicans picked up nine seats in the Senate, thirteen seats in the House, and netted three new gubernatorial seats (Republican Bruce Rauner’s win in Illinois for the governorship was a particularly stinging defeat for Obama). By all objective standards, the 2014 Midterm Elections were a historic drubbing for the Democratic Party.
New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke in a press conference on November 5, 2014, the day after the midterm trouncing. Speaking from a podium in Louisville, Kentucky, Senator McConnell spoke at length about the possibilities of bipartisanship with the new Congress and President Obama: “When the American people chose divided government, I don’t think it means they don’t want us to do anything. I think it means they want us to look for areas of agreement.” Senator McConnell also promised to get the Senate voting on legislation once more, saying: “From an institutional point of view, the Senate needs to be fixed. The Senate in the last few years basically doesn’t do anything. We don’t even vote.” President Obama, whose only promise of bipartisanship was a pledge to “enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell,” did not match McConnell’s optimism about bipartisanship.
In the early days of November 2014, President Obama’s approval rating hovered around a dismal 41%, a factor that certainly played into his party’s demolishment in the midterms. Facing the last two years of his administration, Obama was determined to avoid becoming another lame duck president. Motivated by the treacherous midterm election results, the president made the perplexing decision to move even farther left by introducing a barrage of ultraliberal ideas. Despite the 2014 Midterm Elections being widely interpreted as a referendum on his presidency, President Obama was almost defiant in his reaction to the new gains made by Republicans. Chief among Obama’s proposals, which included the bamboozling decision to normalize relations with the Castro Regime in Cuba, was an executive order that created a new amnesty program and expanded another.
President Obama’s executive amnesty will give illegal immigrants residing in the United States for five years or longer, with children that are U.S. citizens, a three-year work permit that would allow them to obtain Social Security cards and driver’s licenses. According to Pew Research, a whopping 3.5 million illegal aliens would qualify for this program. In addition to this new amnesty program, an expansion of the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would also go into effect. This expansion would provide amnesty for all illegals that entered the U.S. as a minor before 2010. Pew Research estimates that this expansion would provide eligibility benefits for approximately 235,000 more illegal immigrants.
To anybody with a modicum of knowledge of American politics, President Obama’s executive amnesty screams of an attempt to score last minute political points with his progressive base at the expense of the American people. This executive order would have a disparate impact on Southern border-states, whose police departments would be forced to deal with a higher workload, more crime, and a greater influx of illegal immigrants. In addition, a poll by Bloomberg Magazine in December 2014 found that 56% of Americans disapprove of Obama’s executive amnesty. Even more remarkable is the complete about-face the president made in regards to immigration reform. From as early as March 2008 to as recently as August 2014, President Obama espoused that he could not act unilaterally on immigration reform over twenty times. “I’m not a king,” President Obama said on January 30, 2013, “If this was an issue that I could do unilaterally I would have done it a long time ago. … The way our system works is Congress has to pass legislation. I then get an opportunity to sign it and implement it.”
Congress, quite thankfully, has the power of the purse. The only thing Congressional Republicans can do to thwart this executive amnesty is to defund the measure. The so-called “CRomnibus” (a combination of a continuing resolution and omnibus) bill passed in December 2014 was a step in the right direction. While this omnibus bill breezed through Congress, funding most federal agencies until September of 2015, it left out one department. Of course, the only department that remained unfunded by this omnibus bill was the Department of Homeland Security. On January 14 of this year, the House of Representatives passed a $40 billion spending to fund most of DHS, with provisions to stop Obama’s executive amnesty dead in its tracks.
When the $40 billion spending package was introduced in the Senate, Democrats filibustered it endlessly, demanding the House pass a “clean bill” to fund DHS. This “clean bill” would also provide funding for the aforementioned executive amnesty. Filibustering by Democrats has officially killed the DHS funding bill, with Senator McConnell calling on the House to pass a DHS funding bill that would garner the 60 Senate votes necessary to send it to the president’s desk. “The House has done its job,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) mercilessly contended, “ask Senate Democrats when they’re going to get off their ass and do something-other than to vote no.”
Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer has called on Senator McConnell to abolish the filibuster, making the process of obstruction for the Democrats virtually impossible: “Reid went first. Time for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to finish the job. Push the button. Abolish the filibuster.” The nuclear option seems to be the only way to go to pass a spending bill that will get to the president’s desk. If a bill is not passed by February 27, the Department of Homeland Security will shut down. With the deadline looming on funding such a vital part of our government, Congressional leadership must do something.