Politics

GOP Pushes Leadership To Block Obama Amnesty

Neil Munro White House Correspondent

GOP leaders are still debating if they’ll allow conservative legislators to block funding for President Barack Obama’s unpopular $2 trillion amnesty.

But Rep. Tom Price, the incoming chairman of the House budget committee, is trying to win leadership support for a plan that would fund Obama’s immigration agencies only until early 2015, when a GOP-majority Senate can block the amnesty spending.

The plan would pass a 12-month budget for nearly all of the government in a giant omnibus bill, but provide only a few months of funding for immigration agencies in a short-term “continuing resolution.”

“The plan Dr. Price has been proposing is… an omnibus to fund through the [2015] fiscal year but separating out into a short-term CR those funds related to immigration,” a Hill aide told The Daily Caller.

At least 60 GOP legislators are pushing for budget curbs on Obama’s amnesty.

“If we stick together, this president cannot successfully assert his lawless act,” Rep. Steve King told TheDC. “If we stare the president down on this, and give him the money to run all aspects of government except his lawlessness… then I think we do win the [public] argument.”

But first, King said, the GOP’s voters must pressure their leadership to block most of the immigration funding. “If the constituents light up the phones lines, go to their [local] offices,” and also support a planned Dec. 3 protest in D.C., the leadership will follow the party, he said.

“A short-term CR is the best of options, so let’s get that done and get a new Congress installed,” said David Bozell, president of ForAmerica, a conservative advocacy group.

But “there’s a sense that [the leadership] just wants to whistle right past it…You don’t know where the Speaker of the House [Rep. John Boehner] stands, other than for tough talk,” Bozell said.

“That’s the big head-scratcher….[and] we’re getting the uncomfortable feeling they want to get out of [Obama’s] way,” he added.

So far, “Obama knows they’re not going to fight this [amnesty] — that’s why he is emboldened.”

The budget dispute will be intense Monday, Dec. 1, when GOP leaders and legislators return after the Thanksgiving holiday because the huge budget bill has to be decided, debated and passed by Dec. 12.

Obama needs funds to implement his planned Oval Office amnesty, which would grant work-permits to roughly four million illegal immigrants, and give them access to a wide range of government benefits. The plan would also boost the inflow of low-wage guest-workers for jobs sought by Americans, and help his plan to build a dominant “majority of minorities coalition.”

Polls show intense opposition among GOP-friendly voters, and broad opposition from swing-voters. If the leadership doesn’t close down Obama’s plan, they’ll open up crippling splits within the GOP, said Hill aides.

The public is increasingly worried about large-scale immigration, said King. “It is soaking into them that their wages are lower than they ought to be… [and] they know that it’s not right [for the president] to break the law.”

The Price plan is designed to minimize pushback from the GOP-run House appropriations committee, whose business-friendly members who want to minimize any problems that could complicate passage of their huge 2015 funding bill.

The Republican chairman of the appropriations committee, Kentucky’s Hal Rogers, has already claimed Congress can’t block Obama’s spending plans because the immigration agencies are partly funded by fees paid by immigrants.

That claim was shot down Nov. 25, when the non-partisan Congressional Research Service reaffirmed the long-standing view that agencies can’t spend fees without approval from Congress.

But Rogers is backed by business groups, who welcomed Obama’s decision to provide work-permits to roughly four million illegals, and sharply increase the inflow of guest-workers. Those groups are lobbying the GOP leadership to let Obama’s amnesty continue, without funding cuts.

The business groups are influential because their lobbyists — many of whom are former Hill staffers or legislators — envelop the GOP leaders and their staff in routine meetings, fundraisers and social events in Washington. The business lobbyists are also influential because the GOP’s 2016 candidates need a huge amount of funding from big donors to join the nomination race in 2015.

Obama is leveraging the GOP splits, partly by threatening to blame the GOP for a supposed government “shutdown” if his amnesty is not funded.

Obama’s Democratic allies in the Senate have the power to block any GOP budget plan that doesn’t fund the amnesty. Unless the GOP promptly caves, the Democratic block would leave many less-important government agencies without funds after Dec. 12, creating a partial “government shutdown.”

That’s a problem for GOP leaders, who reportedly fear getting tagged with the blame for a shutdown — despite their stunning 2014 victory on Nov. 4.

Obama’s threat is also aided by the established media, which is eager to blame any “shutdown” on the GOP.

But “the penalty we suffered for the [2012 shutdown] is 15 more seats in the House of Representatives and a majority in the Senate,” King said.

Obama’s threat is weakened by the reluctance of several Democratic Senators to support the amnesty.

It is also weakened by public opinion, which sharply oppose preferences for illegals. If Democrats block the GOP’s anti-amnesty plan, they risk being branded as being willing to shut down the government to help illegals.

If GOP legislators follow through on their campaign-trailed promise to block Obama’s agenda, “they’ll be just fine,” said Bozell.

“If they adhere to their promises, the movement and the country would stand up and applaud,” he said. “I only wish they realized that.”

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