Sensing victory on Executive Amnesty funding as part of a larger funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by Congress, President Barack Obama met left the White House to give a speech in Florida where 23 percent of the population are of Hispanic descent – another demonstration of divisive identity politics that has served Obama well during his presidency.
With Congress in Republican hands, Senate leaders are trying to meet a Friday deadline to fund DHS and avoid a shutdown that the mainstream media will report as GOP recklessness at a time when the threat of terrorism looms.
The hold-up can be traced to language in the current bill that would fund President Obama’s Executive Amnesty for upwards of 5.5 million illegal immigrants.
The amnesty, which is on hold due to a federal district court injunction against it in Texas, would free the administration to issue illegal aliens work permits, social security cards, driver’s licenses, free healthcare, free public education, tax refunds in excess of $24,000 and even the ability to vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been looking for a way to balance the concerns of immigration hardliners like Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and moderates like New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte who is running for re-election next year.
One option is a short-term funding bill to allow more time for negotiation. Another option is to fund DHS through the end of the fiscal year on September 30 and then take up separate legislation to defund Executive Amnesty – a bill President Obama would most likely veto – and Congress would not override – if it makes its way to his desk.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said he would not allow an up or down vote on the DHS funding bill without a guarantee that the House would pass it as well – a stunning display of Reid’s ability to exact concessions from weak-kneed Republicans running Congress.
For House Speaker John Boehner, any hint that he plans to cave to the White House on Executive Amnesty could further erode his leadership in the chamber among conservatives who are committed to thwarting Obama’s amnesty play. It is widely believed that Boehner will opt for short-term funding measures for DHS to keep pressure on the White House.
One senior House Republican close to party leaders willing to speak on background to discuss the Senate “two-bill” strategy called the plan “a joke.”
Right now, Republicans have some leverage with Democrats and President Obama on DHS funding. If Republicans pass a bill that funds DHS and includes money for Executive Amnesty, the Republican majority will have zero advantage to force the president’s hand on legislation to repeal.