House Speaker John Boehner says GOP legislators support his decision to allow funding for President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty in the 2015 budget bill.
“We think this is the most practical way to fight the president’s action, and frankly, we listened to our members, and we listened to some members who were frankly griping the most,” he told reporters at a Dec. 4 press conference.
“This was their idea of how to proceed,” he said, using low-key, unemotional language that repeatedly described the president’s dramatic unilateral amnesty merely as an vague “action.”
In fact, many GOP legislators oppose Boehner’s decision to permit spending for the amnesty, according to GOP legislators, including Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Iowa Rep. Steve King.
That internal GOP opposition to the amnesty is forcing Boehner to ask Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi for votes to reach a 218-vote majority in the House. “I expect it will have bipartisan support,” Boehner admitted Dec. 4.
Boehner’s token counter to the amnesty is a section in the 2015 appropriations budget that offers only 60 days of funding for the immigration agencies that will execute Obama’s amnesty.
But Boehner’s 60-day funding limit won’t actually block the amnesty. That’s because the section does not stop the agencies from using fees paid by would-be-immigrants once the 60-day limit is reached.
Obama’s deputies can use the money from foreigners to print and distribute work-permits and Social Security cards for at least 4 million illegal immigrants during 2015.
At least 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Americans’ wages have remained flat since 2000, amid the annual inflow of 1 million immigrants and 650,000 non-agriculture guest-workers that compete for jobs sought by four million Americans who turn 18 each year.
In prior statements, Boehner said he will work with the new GOP Senate majority to pass a bill that would block the amnesty during 2015. But he declined on Thursday to even promise action on a bill in 2015 that intended to block the amnesty.
“There are a lot of options on the table, and I’m not going to get into hypotheticals for what we could or couldn’t do,” he said.
Few people in Washington expect an 2015 anti-amnesty bill to succeed, because it can be blocked by Senate Democrats, or vetoed by the president. To overcome any veto, the likely 54 GOP senators would need support from at least 12 of 46 Democrats.
In contrast, Democrats can’t block popular anti-amnesty language in the 2015 funding bill without choosing to shut down all or parts of the federal government.
GOP conservatives, including Huelskamp and King, say the 2015 budget bill should include a short paragraph, or “rider,” that bars the immigration agencies from spending any money to implement the huge amnesty.
White House officials and Democratic legislators oppose the rider because it would block the amnesty.
They’re threatening to shut down the government if the GOP includes the rider in the appropriations language.
Some GOP legislators are using strong language to denounce the amnesty, but have not committed to block spending on the amnesty. “This is power grab of enormous proportions, it is unconstitutional,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary committee declared in a floor speech Thursday.
Goodlatte was speaking during a debate on a bill that symbolically denounces Obama’s agenda. The bill is expected to die because it will be ignored by the Democrat-run Senate during the lame duck session.
Obama’s amnesty is expected to cost taxpayers $40 billion a year for the next 50 years.
Conservative advocacy groups are pushing back against Boehner not taking a firmer stance against Obama’s amnesty. “It is transparently clear that he has no intention this week, next week or next year to use the appropriations process to block Obama,” said Dan Holler, the communications director for Heritage Action for America. “That’s outrageous… it goes against everything that Republicans campaigned on in the fall,” he said.
Throughout the Dec. 4 press conference, Boehner suggested the GOP leadership in the House and Senate might do something in 2015. “I do know this, come January, we’ll have a Republican House and a Republican Senate and we’ll be in a strong position to take action,” Boehner added.
Obama’s amnesty is backed by many GOP business donors.
It is opposed by many conservative legislators, including Sen. Jeff Sessions. “Perhaps no other issue defines the gap between the elites in this country and middle Americans who go to work every day,” Sessions said in a floor speech after Boehner’s press conference. “Congress has the power to control what the president… spends money on.”
The amnesty is also opposed by huge majorities of the GOP base and by many swing-voters.
In general, the president’s immigration policies are publicly opposed two-to-one, even in Democratic leaning states. In deep-blue Oregon, for example, voters decided on Nov. 4 — by two-to-one — to deny drivers’ licenses to illegals.
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.
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.
Boehner and senior GOP leaders say Obama’s amnesty is a illegitimate process, but they don’t argue that it is unfair to Americans.