One-third of the GOP’s House members joined with all House Democrats to allow President Barack Obama to implement his unpopular amnesty.
Obama’s amnesty provides work-permits, drivers’ licenses, taxpayers’ money and Social Security benefits to at least 5 million illegal immigrants, even though many Americans are unemployed or underemployed.
The vote capped a three-month, half-hearted effort by the GOP leadership to display opposition to Obama’s November amnesty, which polls show is unpopular among swing-voters and among Americans worried about jobs, and almost completely opposed by the GOP’s base.
The remarkable Democratic victory came only four months after voters gave the GOP leadership a sweeping victory in the November elections, partly because of broad GOP opposition to Obama’s immigration policy.
The GOP’s defeat prompted scorn and anger among conservatives. “Congratulations Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi on your House Majority,” said a tweet from Erick Erickson, the influential editor of RedState.com.
“GOP leaders are not only caving to Obama, they are abandoning the people who just gave them majorities in both Houses,” said David Bozell, president of ForAmerica.
Former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh called for a new political party. “Republicans just joined the Democrats on the amnesty bus. Time for a 3rd Party to represent the rest of us who aren’t on that bus,” he tweeted.
“The President and Senate Democrats always knew the House would capitulate… [and] the federal court system is our last hope to overturn the President’s lawlessness on immigration,” said a statement from Oklahoma Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine.
The vote “deliberately sabotages our laws, allowing individuals who Congress has expressly mandated be expelled from our nation to stay, to live as citizens, and to hold jobs,” said a statement from Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon.
The GOP’s leadership in the House and Senate staged the March 3 vote after Democrats — aided by their allies in the establishment media — stonewalled funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
Democrats blocked the funding, and then used the media to blame the GOP for the expect budget problems. Amid the media pressure, the GOP leadership arranged the March 3 vote that allowed passage of the toothless budget bill
The toothless bill, dubbed a “clean” bill by Democrats and the media, doesn’t block funding for the amnesty, even though a Texas court has blocked the amnesty for violating federal law.
One hundred and sixty-seven GOP representatives voted against the amnesty bill, but 75 GOP members voted for the toothless bill.
The 75 GOP members allied with 182 Democrats to approve the budget bill, which effectively includes a blank check for Obama’s amnesty which he is funding with fees paid by illegal immigrants.
That final vote was 257 yes, 167 no.
The GOP’s 75 yes voters included many of Boehner’s senior allies, such as Rep. Hal Rogers, the chairman of the appropriations committee, Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Chairman, Rep. Charlie Dent, chairman of the ethics committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the homeland security committee and Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the tax-writing ways and means committee.
Boehner tried to blame his planned defeat on the Senate’s Democratic and Republican senators.
Senate Republicans “never found a way to win this fight,” he said.
However, Boehner — and the GOP leaders in the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell — never launched a tough and emotional public relations campaign to win the vote. Instead, they limited their criticism to low-emotion arguments about legalities and constitutional procedures.
That’s a sharp contrast from other priorities, such as passage of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, where GOP leaders employ a wide range of legal, economic and emotional arguments to win the dispute.
Boehner suggested he would continue to oppose Obama’s amnesty. “I am as outraged and frustrated as you at the lawless and unconstitutional actions of this president,” he said.
“The good news is that the president’s executive action has been stopped [and] this matter will continue to be litigated in the courts, where we have our best chance of winning this fight,” he claimed.
That promise of opposition, however, is suspected by the GOP’s populist wing, who note that GOP leaders have not contributed to the Texas lawsuit.
The surrender by Boehner and McConnell is likely to please their business donors, and the donors to GOP presidential candidates in 2016. The donors tend to gain from amnesty, which provides them with a wave of additional lower-wage workers and federally subsidized consumers.
The amnesty, if not blocked by the courts, will cost taxpayers $2 trillion over the next 50 years. That money will aid illegal immigrants and investors because it will subsidize spending by the migrants.
GOP leaders downplayed the risk that the amnestied migrants will use the documents provided by Obama to improperly vote in the 2016 elections.
Some of the GOP’s 167 no votes came from GOP representatives who supported Boehner’s funding plan in December that set the stage for the DHS fight.
For example, Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta voted for the December plan, but claimed March 3 that he opposed the amnesty. “Despite our best efforts in the House, we simply were not able to break the logjam of Democrats in the Senate… I cannot understand the argument that providing work permits and federal benefits to those who have broken our laws is more important than funding the defense of our country,” he said in a statement after the vote.