Diary

How to Rescue Stopping Obama's Amnesty from McConnell's Cave-in

The latest news is that Senate leader McConnell, having failed to break united Democrat opposition to the House DHS funding bill that also defunded Obama’s executive amnesty, has thrown in the towel. In remarks on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he has no choice:

“Now, my preference is still to debate and pass the funding legislation that’s currently before us. It’s already passed the House. It’s the simplest and easiest way forward. And if Democrats think it needs to be amended, I’m sure they’ll try to do that. They just need to let us bring it to the floor first.

“But as long as Democrats continue to prevent us from even doing that, the new bill I described offers another option we can turn to. It’s another way to get the Senate unstuck from a Democrat filibuster and move the debate forward.”

Incredibly, our wimpy Senate Republicans, save for Sen Sessions, went along, in a 98-2 vote. And yet, even at the eleventh hour, there is a way to put a DHS bill that defunds executive amnesty on Obama’s desk:

the strategy is pass a clean senate bill, send it to reconciliation,  where the funding ban for Obama executive immigration actions is reinstated by the GOP which controls both houses, then send it back to house and senate for final vote, and no filibuster allowed per senate rules

Now you know why [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] was insisting on some assurances from the House side on the DHS bill. There is a way around the logjam, and a ‘clean DHS’ bill doesn’t mean the House should follow suit. It means it should go into conference, get hammered into a compromise and then voted on. A compromise that strips funding only for the Nov 2014 executive orders would be in order. This is what should may involve some trickery.

But let’s be honest. If [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] really wanted to fight for this, he wouldn’t have pre-caved on multiple occasions, cutting his own leverage in the process. For one, he would have made threats to undo the filibuster to get it done, like Reid did in the past. House GOP members begged him:

A growing number of House GOP conservatives are pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday to invoke the “nuclear option” and change the chamber’s rules to pass a bill defunding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.  Reps. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) and [mc_name name=’Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001057′ ] (R-Kan.) said McConnell should change Senate rules, so the House-passed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill, which includes language to revoke Obama’s immigration-related actions, can bypass a Democratic filibuster in the upper chamber.

It was noted that [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] broke Republican filibusters (like on Dodd-Frank) by holding cloture votes again and again. Why didn’t McConnell hold a vote every single day from late January? After 12 votes in a row on it, and holding them on saturday and sunday to rub the noses of the Democrats further of the costs of obstruction, and then a concerted effort in the media to blame Democrats for the funding failure, the political environment would be quite different.

Second, McConnell could have and should have used reconciliation on this budget item to force through a vote without the 60 vote threshold.  This was not hard to do – DHS is a spending bill! Yet amazingly, he failed to even try.

Third, going back to December, he could have and should have pushed for a bolder strategy than this one. Yet the real opportunity to use the budget process as leverage was lost from the get-go by McConnell’s own white-flag waving comment that he would never shut down the Government. In effect “dont worry

McConnell’s failure to expend political capital, his failure to shape the narrative both through his own statements and the statements of Senators in the GOP caucus, all led to his own dilemma.  That is, rather than push the narrative of Democrat obstructionism, [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] whined about how he’s ‘stuck’. He was never ‘stuck’ – the Democrats were filibustering a spending bill that he could have overcome with the right strategy and effort. Rather than push on Democrats, and rather than do the hard but possible work of getting around it, and rather than #dontblink and take the heat for an impasse, he pushes on the House to get him out of a fix of his own making.

In the end, some of the moderate GOP Senators let slip the reality – (too) many of them are just FINE with amnesty from the President. Sen [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000360′ ], Sen [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ], Sen Flake, all expressed how they wish DHS funding wasnt sullied with defunding Obama’s executive amnesty. And now, I see pro-legalization Congressmen like Rep [mc_name name=’Rep. John Carter (R-TX)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001051′ ] are saying they’d vote for a ‘clean’ DHS bill.

McConnell’s cave is shameful act of unnecessary political cowardice. Given a majority of 55 members, he acts like a powerless minority leader, shunning his mandate in exchange for … nothing.  Not since McClellan’s Army of the Potomac has a leader been reduced to doing so little with so much.

So while this armchair General sees the opportunity for a good general to take the fight even now at the eleventh hour, well, for the current Congressional leadership to actually execute on it would be hoping for too much.