Boehner’s Budget Cram-Down Imposes Risks On GOP Reps

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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House Speaker John Boehner is releasing the huge, $1 trillion 2015 government budget on Monday, only three days before the vote on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

That delay jams GOP legislators, who won’t be able to identify or oppose many of the unpopular spending programs that are likely buried deep inside the complex budget, which was drafted by GOP and Democratic members of the appropriations committees.

“There’s no way this huge bill can be addressed effectively,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking GOP member of the Senate’e budget committee, said on Sunday. “There are going to be thousands of pages.”

Boehner has held the budget bill secret until the last days before much of the federal government shuts down for lack of cash on Dec. 12.

Boehner declined to describe or release the proposed budget last week, which would have allowed legislators — plus GOP voters and advocacy groups — time to identify and rally against spending programs that are opposed by their constituents and supporters.

Those spending allotments could fund new energy regulations, enforcement of rules requiring employers to fund abortions, and President Barack Obama’s award of work-permits to foreigners living illegally in the United States.

Left-wing advocacy groups say they’re alarmed that Boehner’s strategy is designed to torpedo Democrats’ defense of progressive programs, such as regulation of energy use.

“I’m sure we’re going to be finding stuff out in January or February… You have to not just be a speed-reader, but really be a superman to get through all of it,” Steve Ellis, vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, told The Hill.

But Boehner’s strategy seems to be aimed at his own caucus, partly because a large portion of the caucus opposes Obama’s unilateral and unpopular award of work-permits and Social Security cards to at least 4 million illegal immigrants.

Amnesty is so toxic to GOP voters that Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary fight in June, amid charges of crony capitalism by challenger Dave Brat, who now holds Cantor’s seat.

Boehner’s budget allows only two months of funding for Obama’s immigration agency — but he excluded draft language that would have prevented the agencies from accepting fees from illegals in exchange for work-permits.

A similar cram-down strategy by Boehner failed August 1.

Just before the recess, a portion of the GOP caucus blocked a Boehner-backed bill, despite strong pressure from the new whip, Rep. Steve Scalise. The rebels objected because the bill would have allowed Obama to provide work-permits to young illegal immigrants from Mexico, on the same terms that he provided work-permits to at least 50,000 adult and youth migrants from Central America in 2014.

After several hours of negotiations, the rebels won a new bill blocking an extension of Obama’s 2012 amnesty, which has provided work-permits to more than 600,000 younger illegals.

Nearly all of the GOP caucus voted for the rebels’ bill, giving them a strong anti-amnesty message for the August recess.

That bill was later blocked by the Democratic-run Senate, giving more ammunition to GOP candidates in the midterm elections. In November, many GOP candidates ran against Obama’s amnesty — and won seats from several Democratic senators who voted for the Senate’s amnesty bill.

The winners included Senator-elect Rep. Bill Cassidy, who announced just before his Dec. 6 run-off win in Louisiana that he wants anti-amnesty language written into the 2015 bill.

Arkansas’ new Sen.-elect Tom Cotton also called for the public to dial legislators until Boehner allows the anti-amnesty language.

Boehner’s 2015 budget runs some risk of rejection because it does not include language that defunds Obama’s amnesty. That amnesty is very unpopular among the GOP’s primary voters and some swing-voters.

Median-wages have been flat since 2000, as roughly 600,000 working-age immigrants and 650,000 non-agricultural guest-workers arrive annually to compete for jobs against the 4 million Americans who enter the workforce each year.

Top GOP legislators, including Boehner, have denounced Obama’s amnesty, but have refused to add anti-amnesty language to the spending plan, despite the amnesty’s unpopularity. Boehner says that language would cause the Democrats to reject the budget, force a government “shutdown” and inflict a PR defeat on the GOP.

But Boehner’s allies have also sketched still-secret plans for a 2015 GOP-style amnesty that would provide foreign workers to U.S. employers, and force GOP legislators to back an amnesty in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Boehner says he expects the budget will pass with Democratic votes.

House members are complaining about Boehner’s cram-down strategy.

“That’s not to squeeze [Democratic Sen.] Harry Reid — that’s to squeeze us,” Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp told the Hill.

“I think its aimed at screwing over the American people. You can quote me on that,” North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones told the publication.

Influential radio hosts are also criticizing Boehner’s strategy of using the last-minute budget-rush to silence rank-and-file opposition to Democratic priorities, including President Barack Obama’s de-facto amnesty.

“Republican [leaders] want what Obama wants on immigration,” Rush Limbaugh told Fox News Sunday. “Oh, we can’t act, we can’t, because they’ll blame us for shutting it. They’ll really be mad at us for shutting down the government,” he said, mimicking Boehner’s argument against including an ban on amnesty spending in the 2015 budget.

“The American people are being let down here. They’re voting. They’re expressing their desires. They want this stuff stopped and the Republican Party is not listening,” Limbaugh added.

“It’s an omnibus spending bill that funds the whole government until the end of next summer, taking away a lot of opportunity to really hone in on those specifics” that the GOP legislators should oppose, radio host Laura Ingraham, said Dec. 3.

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