Top Democrats said Feb. 23 they will hold the homeland security budget hostage until the GOP’s House caucus agrees to quit its popular anti-amnesty efforts.
“If we are going to avoid a government shutdown on the Department of Homeland Security, we need a commitment from Speaker Boehner that we have a bipartisan, bicameral approval to end this deadlock,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin told reporters during a Tuesday press conference in the Senate.
Durbin spoke shortly after the Senate’s GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to submit to the Democrats’ demands that the DHS 2015 budget not curb spending on the president’s November amnesty.
Democrats have filibustered the House-passed DHS budget bill four times just to block the anti-amnesty language.
McConnell agreed Feb. 22 to allow separate votes on a toothless DHS budget bill, and a bill that would curb Obama’s amnesty plans.
That’s a complete victory for the Democrats, because McConnell’s plan would allow them to kill the anti-amnesty bill, while also approving the separated DHS funding bill.
But McConnell’s surrender isn’t enough for Democrats.
“All eyes are on Speaker Boehner,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said during the press conference.
“Will he fully fund Homeland Security in a separate bill, send it the president for signature?… or is he going to go back to his old ways and say ‘I’ll do this, that or the other thing, but I won’t fully fund homeland security.’”
In fact, Boehner’s DHS bill that is being blocked by Schumer and the Democrats fully funds the DHS budget.
“I’m waiting to hear from the Speaker,” said Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrats’ minority leaders in the Senate. “We have to make sure that people understand the bicameral nature of this conversation, so that Sen. McConnell just passing the ball over to the House isn’t going to do the trick.”
“[Boehner] has indicated to me through his staff that he’ll be in touch sometime soon and until that time comes, we are where we were,” Reid said.
Obama’s Nov. 20 amnesty would provide work-permits and tax rebates to roughly 5 million illegal immigrants.
Obama is pushing the amnesty with support from all Democratic senators, even though middle-class Americans are facing stalled wages, declining workplace participation and a growing wealth gap between wage-earners and the investors who gain from the cheap labor and government-aided customers provided by Obama’s high-immigration policies.
Since 2009, Obama has added roughly 9 million working-age immigrants to the workforce, where they will compete for jobs against the roughly 24 million young Americans who have entered the workforce.
On Feb. 23, Obama’s deputies announced they would provide work permits to roughly 180,000 additional guest workers over the next year.
The Daily Caller asked Reid if polls showed the amnesty is popular among Americans. “I don’t know what’s popular, but I know what’s the right thing to do,” he replied.
The GOP’s base is already pushing back against McConnell’s apparent surrender.
“As the Majority Leader said last year, the power of the purse is the ‘only tool’ Congress has to rein in executive overreach,” said Michael Needham, head of Heritage Action.
“Heritage Action will [penalize Senators who vote for a] DHS bill that would allow for the funding of the President’s unconstitutional amnesty,” he said.
Almost 90 percent of the GOP base opposes Obama’s amnesty plans.
So far, the GOP leaders have not mounted an election-style PR campaign to pressure Democratic senators to support the anti-amnesty bill. Many GOP donors favor the president’s high-immigration policies.