President Obama’s announcement tonight may bring a “constitutional crisis,” in the words of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), but Republicans in Congress haven’t the damndest idea what they’ll do about it.
Immigration crisis, what can Republicans do?
“That’s the hundred million dollar question,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), “How do you stop an inaction? That’s the tough question that I don’t have the answer to today….Just to go a step further: ‘shut the government down.’ That doesn’t stop this inaction. Don’t fund immigration service. That doesn’t stop this inaction. How do you stop this inaction?”
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers attempted to throw cold water on the idea of using spending bills to prohibit funding for employment documents for illegal aliens, saying that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded by fees it collects, inuring itself from a shutdown.
Censuring Obama, a non-binding step short of impeachment suggested by top immigration hawk Rep. Steve King (R-IA), is finding quick opposition among more senior members.
“That doesn’t stop the action of the executive order. That’s what we have to be smart about this. I think he wants us to do that. In a really weird way, I think he wants us to be fighting him on a personal level and not focused on the issues, because he got beat on the issues in the November election. If we make this about him – which I think he wants us to, that’s why he’s doing this – it’s a huge distraction on all the policy issues, [like] repealing pieces of Obamacare,” Tiberi said.
One avenue thought to hold promise even by more establishment-type Republicans is legal action, although it could take years to see resolution. “Ultimately this fight might end up at the Supreme Court,” Tiberi said. Conservatives have floated a number of plans, beginning with targeting the administration’s ability to use funds to legalize aliens.
They’ve also discussed resolutions of disapproval, censure – an unnamed lawmaker was collecting cosponsors for a yet-to-be-released censure resolution, a colleague said – and even impeachment.
“We need to be evaluating how many of our available weapons we want to use. It’s my belief that we should use every single one in our arsenal. We should challenge the president in court, to the extent his executive order violates any constitutional or federal statutory provisions. We should encourage state and other governments to join in that effort to force the president to obey the law. We should look at our funding mechanisms and pass whatever legislation is necessary and advisable to force the president to obey the law. We should censure the president. If the president’s conduct rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, which is a very high level, then we should consider impeachment,” said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL).
The lack of a concrete plan may leave Republicans scrambling to respond after the president acts, some lawmakers fear. “What I’ve seen in my two years here is, everything is crisis management because we don’t get out in front of it. We’re in a football game and we’re worried about the next down. We don’t know where the goalpost is,” said Yoho.