John Boehner is not, to put it mildly, a conservative favorite. In the wake of what many conservatives saw as a retreat from the issue of illegal immigration, hardliners wanted Boehner removed from his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Though he narrowly slipped through to another term, conservatives remained skeptical that he was fit to lead the Republican Party in the last two years of Obama’s rule.
Perhaps it was with this disappointment in mind that Boehner took to the House floor on Wednesday. Showing a backbone that has been MIA for the last six months, Boehner outlined a position to block Obama’s immigration plan that included some of the harshest official criticism we’ve heard of executive amnesty.
“To think that the president of the United States studied constitutional law,” he said, insisting that Obama’s immigration plan was nothing less than illegal. “He didn’t just learn constitutional law. He taught it himself.”
Boehner, who has been accused of being too quick to compromise with the president on matters important to his constituents, seemed to have shed any remnants of his moderate reputation as he went on the offensive. He called out Obama’s actions as “executive overreach,” and went on to list 22 separate occasions when the president himself admitted he lacked the authority to change immigration law. He noted Obama’s statement in 2011, when he acknowledged that many activists “wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works.”
A New DHS Spending Bill
The lambasting took place before the House voted on amendments to the Department of Homeland Security spending bill. The amendments included one to defund the president’s executive action from November and another to end Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program from 2012. Both amendments passed, as well as the DHS overall spending bill. Now they must pass the Senate before landing on the president’s desk.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying, “The pointless, political bill passed in the House today will not pass the Senate.”
He may be right. Though Republicans enjoy a 54-46 majority in the upper house of Congress, it will take 60 votes to get the bill past procedural limitations. Even if the bill does miraculously pass the Senate, it is almost certainly doomed to die under the veto pen of President Obama. With such a fate waiting for it, is this all just a big show of pandering from House Republicans?
Perhaps, but there are benefits to making a show of opposition. For one thing, it puts into history legislative backlash against Obama’s abuse of power. In more pragmatic terms, the uncertainty in Washington could scare many illegal immigrants from taking advantage of Obama’s amnesty promise. It could show would-be immigrants that America is not as welcoming to border-jumpers as the president would like them to believe.
At the end of the day, Republicans need to coalesce around a strategy for real immigration reform. Good law probably won’t be passed until the GOP has control of the White House as well, but now is as good a time as any to start the wheels moving.