Majority Leader Harry Reid told President Obama on Thursday that it would be wise to hold off on issuing his executive orders on immigration until after the Continuing Resolution funding the government through the end of the fiscal year was passed.
Reid worries that if Obama acts to amnesty 5 million illegals, Republicans will include an amendment to the CR that prevents the implementation of the plan via withholding funding from various programs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that he has urged President Barack Obama not to take any executive action on immigration until December, amid threats from Republicans that such a move could derail funding for the government.
“The president has said he’s going to do the executive action — the question is when he can do it. It’s up to him,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I’d like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it.”
Reid added that he has expressed his view to Obama, but ultimately “it’s up to him.”
It’s doubtful that any Republican amendment defunding the president’s executive action on immigration would pass in the Senate. But the House version of the CR would almost certainly contain a ban on funding programs that help implement the executive orders. There’s a very good chance that House Republicans would vote down a Senate version of the bill that did not contain such language, thus shutting down the government if an agreement couldn’t be reached by December 10.
Unity among Republicans appears to be strong. Even John McCain and Lindsey Graham are on board:
“If the president illegally tries to grant amnesty to millions of more people, I believe Congress should use every available tool to stop that amnesty and to defend the rule of law,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told The Huffington Post.
Even Republicans who criticized last year’s government shutdown agreed. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), both vocal critics of the previous shutdown and co-authors of the Senate immigration bill that passed last year, warned of grave consequences of Obama were to act unilaterally.
“Why not give the new Congress six months to see if we can find a way forward?” Graham told HuffPost. “You’ve got a bunch of new people coming in who need to be tested about what they believe regarding immigration. Patience is a virtue in life, it’s a necessity in a democracy. I just think it’s ill-conceived and the public will rebel against it.”
Graham added that he had appealed directly to the White House on the matter.
“I said, ‘Listen, what’s the downside of giving the new Congress a chance? I think most Americans will find this inappropriate and Democrats will pay a price,'” he said. “Most Americans would be for rational comprehensive immigration reform. Very few Americans are for Barack Obama going it alone.”
McCain said Obama’s decision to take executive action “poisons the well in more ways than one.”
“If the president were serious about immigration reform, he’d say, ‘It’s a new Congress, new members, in both House and Senate, and I’ll give them a chance to move forward on immigration reform.’ He’s not going to do that,” McCain said. “So you have to question whether he’s really serious about immigration reform or helping with the Hispanic vote in the 2016 election.”
McCain also rejected the notion that Congress had forced Obama’s hand by failing to act on the issue.
“There may be something happening. You should give it time in order to find that out. What’s the difference between three months?” McCain said, adding that he would “absolutely” vote for a continuing resolution that defunds any executive action Obama takes on immigration.
“If he vetoes, he vetoes,” McCain said. “I believe in the Constitution. He’s the one who’s violating the Constitution.”
It will be very tough to spin a government shutdown as the Republicans’ fault. More than 70% of the country disagrees with the president’s amnesty plan, and would understand the necessity of fighting the president’s illegal orders.
But a delay in announcing amnesty may work in Reid’s favor. Without a hard target, Republicans would be protesting what might happen, not what would already have happened. The president can always say he hasn’t made up his mind yet what he’s going to do. That would be a typical Obama lie, but who’s to say otherwise?
With Obama ready to pull the trigger on executive amnesty, Republicans appear united and prepared to oppose it.