Press reports say House Speaker John Boehner will ask Rep. Nancy Pelosi to help him overcome “snowballing” GOP opposition to the GOP leadership’s draft 2015 government budget bill.
Boehner’s draft bill funds the entire government for 2015, but makes merely token efforts to stop President Barack Obama’s agencies from implementing his unpopular amnesty, according to rank-and-file GOP legislators.
That claim of snowballing opposition was boosted early Wednesday evening, when aides to House Speaker John Boehner said they would change their funding bill to reduce the number of months of funding for Obama’s immigration agencies.
Late Wednesday night, the Washington Post reported that top Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer also said Boehner’s aides had asked him to deliver Democratic votes to ensure passage of the amnesty-funding bill. GOP Rep. Mark Amodei made the same claim to National Review.
Boehner is looking for Democratic help because many of the 234 GOP legislators don’t want to fund the business-backed amnesty. Boehner needs at least 218 votes to pass the bill.
Obama’s amnesty, announced Nov. 21, has blocked the enforcement of immigration law for 12 million illegals, will grant work-permits to five million illegals, will provide government benefits to millions of illegals and will make it cheaper for companies to hire illegals instead of Americans.
“Right now, it is just snowballing opposition,” Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp told The Daily Caller Wednesday.
“Twenty-four hours ago, there was little [opposition] there… [but] more and and more folks are learning the issue and asking ‘Why would I be voting for this?'” he said, citing quiet conversations he’s had with GOP members. “It is hard to put numbers on it,” he said, adding that legislators are responding to their voters’ phone calls and complaints.
In the run-up to the November election, Gallup reported the highest priority for GOP voters was not Obamacare or the economy, but immigration. Even a poll by CNN and Quinnipiac, taken late November, showed that 75 percent of GOP supporters oppose unilateral action by Obama, and that 54 percent say illegal migrants “should be required to leave.” Only 20 percent of GOP supporters endorsed unilateral action by the president.
Boehner promised to fight the amnesty “tooth and nail,” and on Dec. 1 he proposed a 2015 budget plan he said would block Obama’s amnesty.
His 2015 budget plan would provide only four months of funding to the agency that will implement the amnesty. Once the funding runs out, the new GOP majorities in the Senate and House can block the amnesty, Boehner’s deputies promised.
Boehner’s allies say that plan will avoid the “government shutdown” political defeat expected once Obama blocks the spending plan with the anti-amnesty language. The budget plan has to be drafted and approved by Dec. 12.
GOP members say Boehner’s plan can’t actually stop the immigration agency from printing work permits and Social Security cards for millions of illegal immigrants. The agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, can accomplish Obama’s amnesty even without federal funding because it is mostly funded with fees paid by would-be immigrants.
So even if Congress appropriates no money to fund the agency after March 2015, it can use the fees to keep handing out work permits to illegals.
Boehner and GOP leaders can’t stop the agency’s operations once they pass the 2015 budget in December. That’s because they would need to pass a new law through the Senate in 2015, where there will be enough Democrats to block any GOP bill, and more than enough Democrats to sustain the presidential veto of any anti-amnesty bill that does get passed.
The only way to stop the amnesty, say GOP members, including Huelskamp, is to add “rider” language to Boehner’s pending appropriations bill.
The rider language would bar the immigration agency from spending any funds to implement the amnesty for the next 12 months.
The so-called “rider” language is similar to many other funding limitations inserted into the annual appropriations bills — except that Obama’s aides are suggesting he will shut down the government unless the GOP funds his amnesty.
The amnesty will cost a lot of money to implement. On Dec. 3, Sen. Jeff Sessions announced that the administration has secretly made preparations to hire 1,000 people to rapidly distribute work permits to illegals in Virginia.
“This action will mean that American workers, their sons, their daughters, their parents, will now have to compete directly for jobs, wages, and benefits with millions of illegal immigrants,” Sessions said.
Many GOP legislators will oppose Boehner’s budget plan, but only when they’re pressured by voters, said Iowa Rep. Steve King.
“These people in here, when you realize how many don’t come out publicly [against the amnesty] because they may hope to be a committee chair one day, maybe looking for a certain appointment. … They want to stay a little more low-key,” and those members will stay quiet until they’re pressured by voters, King said.
The group of winnable legislators could be up to 50, which is enough to deny Boehner a House majority. That would force him to rewrite his funding bill or rely on Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi to provide enough legislators to pass the bill.
Many conservative or immigration-reform groups are trying to rally GOP legislators against the bill. “The funding bill is really the only angle” to stop the amnesty, said Michael Steele, the former head of the Republican National Committee.
Boehner “has to put something in place something that aligns the caucus to get the votes he needs. … They should have done better,” he told radio host Laura Ingraham.
Boehner’s team is keeping its deliberations secret from GOP legislators, say Huelskamp and other GOP legislators. But his chief whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, has long worked with conservative GOP legislators, King said. “He’s a pretty good guy, you know,” King said.
During the border security issue in July, Scalise worked with King and other GOP leaders to pass a bill that denied funding for an extension of Obama’s 2012 amnesty for young illegal immigrants.
Boehner and team tried to push through a much weaker bill, but many GOP legislators joined King’s group once their constituents called. Eventually, nearly every GOP legislator — including Boehner — voted for the bill developed by Scalise and King.
“That was a similar scenario to this one… some of the [legislators] had been whipped on this [by Boehner’s team], but they went back and told leadership ‘No,'” because of voter pressure, King said.
“If you look at what I thought we had [open] support then, versus what materialized for support after people made the phone calls to their members of Congress, after they got up to speed on the issue … members begin to learn enough, they get educated and they come around,” he said.
That House defunding bill died when Senate Democrats blocked it in a late-night vote.
However, the bill has put nearly all GOP legislators on the record against Obama’s amnesty actions.
In the Senate, four endangered Democratic Senators voted to support a similar defunding bill when Sessions used complex Senate rules to bypass Democratic opposition to any vote.
The Democratic splits shows the GOP may win an amnesty and government shutdown battle with Obama.
The amnesty could become political poison for the Democratic Party because it grants work permits to four million low-wage illegal immigrants during a period when Americans’ wages have stayed flat for 15 years, when roughly 20 million Americans are unemployed or have given up looking for work and when more taxpayer funds are being transferred from retirees to unskilled poor migrant families.
Polls show strong opposition to increased immigration and to Obama’s immigration policies. But public opposition to the amnesty is muted by social pressure to support for the tradition of immigration, and by Americans’ reluctance to been seen as critical of migrants.