Politicians are flirting dangerously with a deadline for funding a critical government service. A recess looms. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Republicans ran hard against executive amnesty for illegal aliens last fall, and were rewarded by voters with historic majorities. Rather than negotiate from a position of strength, GOP leadership opted to fund almost the entire government through Sept. 30, 2015 – in a lame duck session. The Department of Homeland Security was funded only through February 27, which brings us to the current impasse.
Democrats – including seven who lamely said they opposed executive amnesty – filibustered a House-passed bill (HR 240) that would defund President Obama’s lawless actions. No chance, says new Minority Leader Harry Reid; fund Obama’s amnesty, or nothing. It’s important to note that by refusing to allow an up-or-down vote, Democrats are irretrievably culpable for any potential stoppages at DHS. You don’t get to break the law, endorse continued lawlessness, then blame the opposition for a shut-down when you don’t get your way.
Still, Democrats are confident that the GOP will buckle. Sen. Reid predicts a “clean bill” (i.e., one that funds Obama’s law-breaking) will pass, and recent history suggests he has a point. Too often during the last six years, we’ve seen legislation – usually involving massive spending – passed at the eleventh hour before a recess. Politicians seem always to bridge partisan divides when it’s time to skip town, and in recent memory, that’s meant a GOP cave-in. And between now and the funding deadline? The February 16-20 President’s Day recess.
To his credit, Senator McConnell has been relentless. He’s brought up HR 240 multiple times in the face of Democrat obstinacy. And while he can’t change their votes, he can keep his Democrat colleagues in town for a while.
All of us who worked hard during last year’s midterms invoked the power of the purse; it was the brass ring of a Senate majority, the first real chance to check an out-of-control executive. Part of what made the shameful, lame-duck Cromnibus package so bitter for conservatives was the calendar itself. There, just over the hill in January, was the muscle that had so long eluded us: the power of the purse. Now comes the time to exercise it.
By canceling the recess, Sen. McConnell leverages his newfound power in a meaningful way. What could be more important for any Senator – who has ever purported to oppose executive amnesty – than stopping the president from granting legal status to millions with the stroke of his infamous pen? Does any one of them want to go home for a week and tell his or her constituents, “Yeah, that DHS/amnesty deadline is coming up, but I needed a break?”
Sen. McConnell has shown impressive fortitude so far. He holds the cards, and should schedule vote after vote on the motion to proceed. Put the word out now, Senator: “We’ll be here for the next three weeks, doing our best to fund the Department of Homeland Security. We’ll do what we can to persuade our Democrat colleagues that we have to avoid a shutdown.”
Be bold and confident. Lead. The American people are behind you.
Jenny Beth Martin is President and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.