GOP Senate Leaders Take A Dive On Amnesty Fight

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Senate Democrat leaders are using every tool they’ve got to defend the president’s top-priority November amnesty, including emotional threats to civil society, dire warnings of another 9/11 atrocity, and campaign-style hits against four wavering Republican senators.

But the Senate’s GOP leadership has used only low-emotion floor speeches and low-drama press conferences with hostile political media to scratch at the Democrats’ triple-filibuster of the Department of Homeland Security’s 2015 budget.

The GOP’s tearoom tactics haven’t moved even one of the several Democrat senators who declared partial opposition last year to Obama’s unpopular amnesty, which will add five million foreign workers to Americans’ flooded labor market.

No Democrats have flipped, even though five Democratic senators lost their seats in November, partly because of broad public opposition to Obama’s immigration policies.

In contrast to their passivity on immigration, the GOP leaders aggressively fought and won the legislative battle to approve the Keystone pipeline, despite determined Democratic opposition.

The GOP’s tepid actions in the amnesty fight adds up to “nothing, nada, zilch,” according to one Hill staffer.

Republican representatives are getting angrier at the Republican senators’ impotence, partly because the GOP base is nearly united in opposition to the amnesty. Majority Leader “Senator [Mitch] McConnell has engaged in a half-hearted effort to date … in a policy of surrender without fighting,” Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks said Wednesday.

But the GOP caucus in the Senate is splitting as it collides with media-backed Democratic obstructionism.

The Senate Republicans’ ineffective strategy was highlighted Wednesday when Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk suddenly reversed his prior tough language and began repeating Sen. Chuck Schumer’s talking points in the amnesty battle. “I generally agree with the Democratic position here. I think we should have never fought this battle on DHS funding. … I think it’s the wrong battle for us at the wrong time,” Kirk said.

One day prior, Kirk had sharply criticized the Democrats’ opposition to any defunding of Obama’s amnesty. “If there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown — we [Republicans] should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans,'” he said.

Kirk’s surrender came two days after a coalition of progressive groups rolled out push polls and video attack-ads aimed at the Illinois senator and three other GOP senators facing the voters in 2016.

The SEIU-funded survey by Public Policy Polling got a -17 percent response when it pushed telephone respondents with this question; “Mark Kirk is one of the Republicans in Congress refusing to fund the Department of Homeland Security, putting our national security at risk, in an attempt to block the new immigration policy. Does refusing to fund the Department of Homeland Security unless the immigration policy change is blocked make you more or less likely to vote for Mark Kirk next year, or does it not make a difference?”

The attack ad urged viewers to “Call Mark Kirk — tell him homeland security is no place for games.”

The Democratic push quickly changed Kirk’s public statements.

The GOP is to blame for the Democrats’ unanimous decision to block any debate on the DHS bill, Kirk told Talking Points Memo. “I don’t think we should have ever attached these issues to DHS funding. … The burden of being in the majority is the burden of governing.”

In contrast, GOP leaders haven’t used polls to batter the vulnerable Democrats, even though Obama’s amnesty include many unpopular aspects. Obama would let illegals win millions jobs sought by young Americans, he would provides huge tax payments to low-income illegals for the work they did illegally while they were in the country illegally, and he would enroll them in the Social Security system.

Many polls show lopsided public opposition to higher immigration, to Obama’s amnesty, and especially to companies’ use of legal and illegal immigrants when many Americans are unemployed. This public opposition co-exists with Americans’ reluctance to publicly oppose America’s tradition of immigration or to condemn illegal immigrants.

The GOP leadership brought this problem on itself. In 2014, public opposition and House Speaker John Boehner blocked Obama’s push in Congress for a national amnesty. That victory helped the GOP gain extra seats in the House, and to get a huge nine-seat win in the Senate, where they now have a majority of 54 votes.

Obama announced his Oval Office amnesty Nov. 20. Despite pressure from voters, the GOP leaders refused to include language that would’ve defunded the amnesty in the 2015 budget, passed in December. Instead, they approved the amnesty funding in exchange for Obama’s support of a measure that helps Wall Street.

But almost 90 percent of the GOP’s base — and almost one-third of GOP legislators — opposed the amnesty. In response, Republican leaders said they would use the DHS budget to defund the amnesty in late February. Democrats are now filibustering the DHS budget because they oppose the defunding measure in the $30 billion spending plan.

GOP activists now want the leadership to launch a coordinated PR campaign.

GOP leaders “must deliver a single, unified message: President Obama and Senate Democrats are willing to deny border patrol agents their paychecks to ensure illegal immigrants get Social Security numbers,” said a Feb. 11 memo from Heritage Action for America.

“Public pressure is the only thing that is going to convince Democrats to switch their votes and side with the American people,” said a Feb. 12 statement to TheDC from Republican Rep. Dave Brat, who defeated GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the June 2014 primary by criticizing Obama’s planned amnesty as a bipartisan crony-capitalist giveaway to wage-cutting corporations.

That Americans-first pitch will win the support from the “millions of out-of-work Americans who don’t want the president to hand out work permits to five million illegal aliens to compete with them for already scarce jobs,” Brat said.

The Daily Caller asked press aides for GOP leadership committees and the Republican National Committee what their leaders have done to rally the public against the handful of Democratic senators who criticized Obama’s amnesty prior to the election or who face the voters in 2016. The aides did not respond.

McConnell’s office did not respond to TheDC’s questions about his strategy. He’s made several strong speeches calling for passage of the DHS bill, but has not mounted a Schumer-style PR campaign.

The RNC did not respond to THeDC’s request for comment. The most recent mention of “amnesty” on the RNC website was Nov. 16, and its most recent mention of “DHS” was in September 2014.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is responsible for winning the 2016 fights, did not respond, even though its own pollster says the GOP’s official anti-amnesty stance is extremely popular among their voters. The amnesty is also unpopular among Democratic voters and swing-voters, says the NRSC pollster.

The NRSC’s website doesn’t have any visible posts on the fight.

The Senate Republican Conference Committee is intended to help GOP senators win tough elections. It is run by South Dakota Sen. John Thune, but his committee’s website provides so little information on the amnesty fight that the first item shown by a Feb. 11 search was an extended quote from a Democrat senator’s speech.

“I just say let’s pass a clean homeland security bill,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, according to Thune’s website.

Thune’s website also offers “Floor Updates,” but they are dominated by Democrats’ fervent support for Obama’s amnesty. On Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, Thune’s website provided 11 quotes from Democrats’ pro-amnesty speeches, versus three quotes from Republican speeches.

Thune’s website also offers 10 videos, but none include any Republican statements on the amnesty fight.

Thune’s website has a blog with 34 entries, none of which mention DHS or the amnesty.

The website has a “policy spotlight” section that doesn’t mention Obama’s amnesty, although multiple polls show that almost 90 percent of the GOP’s base voters oppose the amnesty.

Thune’s staffers designed several digital images that senators could tweet to build support for amnesty pushback. But they appear to have earned only a handful of views.

Thune’s failure is charted on his own website by a box showing the selected tweets sent out by GOP senators. No tweets on Feb. 10 or Nov. 11 mention the DHS fight, except for four tweets by McConnell’s office. The McConnell tweets linked to his Feb. 11 floor speech, which made a legalistic argument against Obama’s amnesty.

Thune did get an op-ed published in the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal publication. Democrats’ “refusal to let senators proceed to debate this week on the Department of Homeland Security funding bill is disappointing, especially considering Republicans’ offer to let senators offer amendments in alternating fashion between Republicans and Democrats,” he wrote.

The unpopular amnesty would provide work-permits to five million illegals and end repatriations for 12 million, even though millions of Americans have fallen out of the workforce since 2000. Although salaries are stalled and profits are at near-record levels, Obama has flooded the labor market by adding more than 11 million working-age migrants to the economy since 2009. During the same period, Obama’s economy has only created 9.3 million new jobs.

But GOP leaders avoid any discussion about fairness for Americans. Instead, they stick to technicalities that doesn’t require them to condemn Obama’s high immigration policy that is favored by GOP business donors.

“Democrats are blockading Homeland Security funding in order to defend executive overreach the president said himself he couldn’t take — many times over,” McConnell said.

“So this is about Democrats being confronted with a choice: filibuster funding for Homeland Security to protect overreach President Obama himself referred to as ‘ignoring the law,’ or allow the Senate to debate, vote on, and amend the very funding they claim to want,” the majority leader said.

In the House, Boehner also sticks to the non-emotional legalistic pitch. “This isn’t about immigration,” he said Jan. 29. “This is the President violating the Constitution, violating his oath of office, and frankly, not upholding the rule of law.”

In contrast, Democrats make their emotional pitches with vivid images, threats of slaughter and death, and pleas to save distraught child valedictorians who dream of becoming doctors in poor commuities.

“Everyone knows what our colleagues in the House did,” Schumer said in his Feb. 11 speech. “They’re playing hostage. … They’re holding a gun to the head of America and saying unless do you it our way, we’re going to shut down the government.'”

In his Feb. 3 speech, Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin showcased the child of Pakistani illegal immigrants who enrolled in an American university after Obama created a 2012 amnesty for roughly 650,000 young illegals. “Aaima [Sayed] says ‘I have no memories of except of living in the United States — I’m an American in every way … except on paper,'” Durbin claimed, while holding up a huge picture of Sayed, a young woman.

In their speeches, neither McConnell, Schumer nor Durbin mentioned the impact of illegal and legal immigration on Americans.

The Democrats’ emotional and dramatic pitch is broadcast by Schumer’s Democratic Policy and Communication Center.

While Thune’s website ignores the fight, Schumer’s website showcases a digital countdown clock, saying “Republican Homeland Security Shutdown [in] 16 Days.”

The four most recent postings from Feb. 10 to Feb. 12 declare:

“GOP Infighting Leading Toward A Republican Homeland Security Shutdown”

“Conservative Media: DHS Could Be Facing a Shutdown”

“Democrats and DHS Secretaries From Both Parties Agree: Pass a Clean Homeland Security Bill”

“Following McConnell-Cruz Strategy, Republicans Continue Push For Homeland Security Shutdown”

So far, the Democrats’ emotional invective, and the allied groups, such as the SEIU, have kept all Democrats in line, even including West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin is sticking with Schumer even though his voters elected Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to the Senate in 2014. Moore Capito beat her Democratic opponent by 17 points.

Manchin is up for election in 2018.

“Polling shows that Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to the president’s actions,” said Brat. “House and Senate Republicans need to make an all-out push in the media, on social media, in blogs, and in public appearances in their districts to let the public know that Senate Democrats are willing to allow DHS to carry out Obama’s lawless act against their will.”

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