Is Schumer Caving On Budget Filibuster Fight?

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer is still demanding that the GOP allow funding for President Barack Obama’s amnesty, even though the amnesty has been stopped by a federal judge’s 123-page order.

But Schumer did not promise to filibuster the budget bill for a fourth time when the Senate votes again next week.

“This procedural ruling, in our opinion, is very unlikely to be upheld,” Schumer said in a Feb. 17 statement, which hinted that Democrats might stop their filibuster.

“Regardless of the outcome Democrats remain united in our belief that funding for the Department of Homeland Security should not be used as a ransom by Republicans, period,” said Schumer, who ranks second among the 46 Democrats in the Senate, and is the strongest advocate of amnesty for 12 million illegal immigrants.

Schumer has repeatedly said the GOP’s popular opposition to Obama’s unpopular amnesty is akin to a murder threat. So far, he rallied all Democrats to filibuster the border agency’s budget three times.

Democratic leader Sen. Harry Reid also denounced the judge’s decision, but didn’t promise to keep up the filibuster.

“The Senate is mired in a completely avoidable impasse over funding… [and] Senate Democrats have a simple solution for getting out of this jam: take up and pass a clean bill to fund Homeland Security, then move on to a robust debate on immigration legislation,” he said.

Democrats “offer to first fund Homeland Security and then debate immigration stands. All Republicans have to do is say yes,” said Reid.

That ambivalent claim, however, may merely be a positive-sounding filibuster justification for use by their allies in the establishment media.

Still, the judge’s decision boosts GOP solidarity and likely will help their poll numbers.

GOP leaders stepped up their demand that Democrats end their filibuster of the agency’s 2015 budget bill, which includes language that defunds Obama’s amnesty.

“This [judge’s] ruling underscores what the President has already acknowledged publicly 22 times: He doesn’t have the authority to take the kinds of actions he once referred to as ‘ignoring the law’ and ‘unwise and unfair,’” said a statement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Senate Democrats — especially those who’ve voiced opposition to the President’s executive overreach — should end their partisan filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding,” McConnell added.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, who is the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, backed up McConnell’s demand for an end to the filibuster. “As this case makes its way through the legal process, Senate Democrats have a responsibility to drop their filibuster of the House-passed DHS funding bill,” said a Thune statement.

Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision was welcomed by House Speaker John Boehner. “The president said 22 times he did not have the authority to take the very action on immigration he eventually did, so it is no surprise that at least one court has agreed,” Boehner said. “We will continue to follow the case as it moves through the legal process. Hopefully, Senate Democrats who claim to oppose this executive overreach will now let the Senate begin debate on a bill to fund the Homeland Security department.”

Obama’s executive amnesty is intended to award work permits, tax rebates, Social Security cards, and a quick route to citizenship to four million of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. The process would have helped the four million — and their children and spouses — gain deeper roots in the United States.

Obama announced the plan after GOP leaders and voters defeated Schumer’s business-backed effort to pass a major immigration bill in 2013 and 2014.

The Department of Homeland Security was supposed to begin the amnesty process on Feb. 18, but has now been halted by the judge’s decision.

“The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction; in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it,” said a Feb. 17 statement from DHS chief Jeh Johnson.

In December, Congress provided funding for the DHS until Feb. 27.

A January bill passed by the House funded the agency from Feb. 27 to October.

Each year, four million young Americans begin competing for jobs against at least 10 million unemployed Americans, two million annual new immigrants, and a resident pool of roughly two million guest workers.

But Democratic senators are blocking the funding bill because it also includes text that bars any spending on Obama’s unpopular amnesty.

If not reversed, the Democrats’ filibuster will prevent any spending by the agency after Feb. 27, and will force many border and customs officials to work without pay.

Democrats expect their media allies to blame the partial shutdown on the GOP, and hope that media pressure will split the GOP and eventually force a demoralizing surrender to Obama the Senate’s Democratic minority.

But a GOP victory would be a major success for the GOP leadership — plus the GOP’s voters — in the face of unified progressive opposition in D.C. and in the media.

To win public opinion, Democrats and their media allies, plus some liberal Republicans, say the GOP’s anti-amnesty language is causing the disagreement over the DHS budget.

But the judge’s decision is helping GOP leaders to argue that the budget language merely implements the court’s decision.

That judge’s decision also will increase pressure on Democrats from GOP-leaning states, plus Democrats who face the voters in 2016, to stop the filibuster and fund the DHS employees’ checks.

However, Senate GOP leaders have been reluctant to fight hard against the amnesty, party because business donors strongly favor additional immigration of customers and workers.

Since 2009, existing immigration laws and Obama’s decisions have added roughly 11 million foreign workers to the U.S. labor force, despite stalled wages and high unemployment.

In November 2014, foreign-born workers held one in every five U.S. jobs, up from one in six jobs in January 2010, according to federal data highlighted by the Center for Immigration Studies.

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