House Speaker John Boehner allied with top Democrats late Thursday to win a year’s funding for President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty, despite determined resistance from many Republicans and a wave of phone calls from a large slice of the GOP base.
Fifty-seven Democrats joined with Boehner’s 162 Republicans to defeat 67 GOP conservatives.
The 219-to-206 win tears a deep gash in Boehner’s Republican caucus, but it allows him to sideline the bitter immigration debate for a year while he pushes ahead with other business-backed priorities, such as trade bills.
Immediately after the vote, the members of the House rose to applaud Democratic Rep. John Dingell, who is retiring after 59 years in Congress.
“My job tonight is to say ‘Thank You and Merry Christmas,’” Boehner said as the applause ended.
Boehner won after Democrats huddled for several hours, and decided to let some of their caucus back the $1.1 trillion government spending bill.
The bill includes a huge variety of mundane and disputed spending programs, but it doesn’t bar agencies from spending money to implement Obama’s amnesty.
Prior to the vote, Democrats put some opposition after liberal champion Sen. Elizabeth Warren, slammed a section of the bill which allow banks to conduct risky financial transactions via banks whose losses are partly covered by federal insurance. The Democrats’s leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi led the opposition.
But Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden began calling Democrats to persuade them to back the amnesty-funding bill. That helped split the Democratic caucus, and allowed top Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer to deliver a decisive bloc of Democratic votes to Boehner.
The back-room deal was effectively announced at 9:03, as members began walking back into the House chamber.
“I rise to support the bill… I urge my members to vote for this Cromnibus tonight,” Hoyer announced.
The flood of 57 Democrats, as expected, was just enough to overcome the Republicans who rejected the bill.
But their support for the bill allowed many other Democrats to slam the GOP-drafted bank measure as corrupt, without defeating the amnesty bill.
Fueled by Boehner’s money, Obama’s amnesty will provide work-permits, federal aid, Social Security cards and drivers’ licenses to million of illegal immigrants, who will be able to compete against blue-collar worker — including many who voted Democrat in 2014 — for decent jobs.
Prior to the win, Boehner promised to take legislative action against Obama’s amnesty early in 2015. However, he declined to make any detailed commitments, solidifying skepticism among conservatives.
Even if Boehner tries hard to limit funding for the amnesty in 2015, he’ll likely fail to block the funding.
That’s because any bill must win the support of at least six Democratic Senators to reach the 60-vote threshold for votes in the Senate. Also, Obama can veto any funding bill passed in 2015, and the GOP would need support from 12 of the 46 Democratic Senators to overcome his veto.
The House bill does include a two-month time limit on Obama’s main immigration agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. But that two-month limit won’t stop the agency, because it can use fees paid by legal and illegal immigrants to provide the work-permits to the illegals.
Unless many Democrats agree to defund the amnesty — which is Obama’s top priority for 2015 — the agency can keep distributing Social Security numbers to the illegals.
However, Obama’s amnesty may be stopped by judges. Opponents of the amnesty have filed at least two lawsuits to block Obama’s giveaway.