Politics

Boehner Retreats On Amnesty

Neil Munro White House Correspondent

Pressure from GOP voters and legislators is forcing House Speaker John Boehner to part-way oppose President Barack Obama’s personal amnesty for illegal immigrants, say GOP legislators.

Boehner announced on Tuesday that he and his top deputies were proposing to modify the almost-complete 2015 omnibus appropriations budget to block funding for a critical immigration agency after March 30.

“They were doing [an unmodified] omnibus two weeks ago, that was the plan, and then they felt some heat,” so they drafted the modified budget, Kansas GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp told The Daily Caller.

Without the modifications, the omnibus bill would fund easy implementation of Obama’s de facto amnesty for 12 million illegals.

But even if Boehner’s plan stops the funding after March, the agency will still be able to implement Obama’s amnesty because it gets its funding via fees from potential immigrants, and because the spending bill does not specifically bar amnesty spending.

The leaderships four-month plan began failing late Tuesday because of rank-and-file opposition, euphemistically described as “headwinds,” according to leadership aides who spoke to sympathetic reporters at Politico.

Unless he gets solid support from mainstream conservatives, Boehner would need support from Democratic legislators to pass the spending bill. But passing the major spending bill — complete with tacit approval for the amnesty — with Democratic votes instead of GOP votes would be a severe repudiation of the midterm voters who recently boosted Boehner’s majority.

The Democrats’ leader in the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid, suggested Tuesday that he would support Boehner’s plan.

Alternatively, Boehner may try to improve his anti-amnesty plan to win more votes from his own GOP caucus, perhaps by adding language that prohibits the agency form spending money, including fees.

Shortly after Obama announced his amnesty, Boehner theatrically declared he would fight it “tooth and nail.”

Boehner didn’t detail his modified omnibus plan. In general, the four-month limit would block spending after March, and so allow the new GOP majorities in the House and Senate to defund the amnesty with a new spending bill, starting in April.

That plan would also allow Obama 120 days to execute his huge amnesty. The planned block on further spending would only happen if the GOP leadership really wants to defund the amnesty, legislators said.

When asked if he trusts the leadership to impose the funding stoppage, Rep. Jim Jordan changed the subject. “We have a much better chance when we have bigger majorities in both places,” he told TheDC.

So far, only a few GOP senators are determined to block the spending plan. Most are avoiding the critical fight, which pits the GOP’s wage-earning middle-class voters against its profit-funded business donors.

The details of Boehner’s plan might be shared with GOP legislators next Monday or Tuesday, prior to a critical vote on Wednesday, Dec. 10, Huelskamp said.

Boehner tried to sweeten the deal by promising to let legislators vote for a token anti-amnesty bill. The bill is a token because it will be promptly killed by the Democrats in the Senate. The ineffectual bill would be politically useful because it would allow GOP legislators to tell their constituents they had voted against Obama’s amnesty, even as they approved amnesty funding in the spending bill.

The opposition to Boehner’s four-month plan is being magnified by the GOP base voters —- and many swing-voters in critical 2016 states — who have grown increasingly opposed to the business-backed plans for amnesty of low-wage illegal immigrants.

The GOP legislators say the spending bill should be modified to match the GOP priorities that voters — including 35 percent of Latino voters — backed on Nov. 4 when they gave the GOP a bigger House majority and a historic Senate majority.

Several legislators told TheDC the spending bill should block spending on Obama’s amnesty, either immediately or after January.

Their call for a short-term funding bill is a fall-back from a prior proposal to add language to the spending bill that would bar any spending on Obama’s amnesty. That proposal has been rejected by Boehner and by the top leaders on the House Appropriations Committee, which is trying to maintain Democratic support for its huge, multi-agency spending plan.

“Why not vote on the first day we get back?” said Louisiana Rep. John Flaming. “I’m reluctant to support this [bill] unless we shorten the [four month] continuing resolution” to end in January.

“There is a general consensus that a short-term [budget] is a pragmatic approach,” because it would allow the GOP to block Obama’s plan in January or February, said North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows.

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar said the entire multi-agency spending bill should expire early next year, so GOP leaders can adjust many parts of the 2015 spending plans. That plan would allow the GOP to “reward good behavior” by the Obama administration, he said.

Jordan backed up Gosar, and also called for a short-term government-wide budget plan.

The bill should be modified to block spending on other Obama-backed rules, such as an Obamacare regulation that forces companies to fund abortions, and expensive anti-ozone regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, said Huelskamp.

Unless blocked, Obama’s Nov. 21 amnesty will force Americans to compete for jobs against 4 million illegals plus many additional university-trained guest-workers, give illegals access to federal aid programs, cost $2 trillion over 50 years and create a constitutional precedent for future presidents to ignore federal law.

Under current rules, 4 million Americans enter the workforce each year, where they are forced to compete for jobs against 1 million new legal immigrants, 650,000 non-agricultural guest-workers and roughly 8 million working-age illegals.

Since roughly 2000, median wages paid to Americans have been flat, and the number of native-born Americans with jobs has remained level, despite a population increase.

Follow Neil on Twitter