To the consternation of congressional Republicans, President Obama will make a prime time announcement on Thursday that he will take executive action to fill the void left by Congress on immigration reform.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has warned that his party would fight “tooth and nail” if Obama “continues down this path.” He added: “This is the wrong way to govern. All options are on the table… if he wants to go off on his own, there are things he is just not going to get.”
The list of threats from some Republican lawmakers is growing by the day. They claim Obama is exceeding the scope of his office by taking executive action, and that Obama should leave the job to Congress. But Congress hasn’t passed a thing. Earlier this year, the President backed off promises to take action before the end of summer, banking on the hope that Congress would work out permanent immigration legislation. It never happened. At the cost of advocate ire, Obama again delayed executive action until after the midterm election. Even now that Republicans will control both houses of Congress, Boehner refused to guarantee a House floor vote on immigration reform — even if the president doesn’t take executive action.
And so now, as President Obama announces his executive action tonight, here are some of the many other government programs Republicans are threatening to sabotage in retribution:
Threatening to shut down the government. Republicans are weighing the option of shutting down the government to stop what they perceive to be an “unconstitutional, unlawful action,” though Sen. John Thune (R-SD) recently acknowledged that such a move “doesn’t solve the problem.” After Congress failed to appropriate funds which resulted in a 16-day shut down last year, the economy lost $24 billion. The impact extended to American businesses and individuals, like federal employees who were furloughed for 6.6 million days, individuals whose tax funds were delayed, and communities near national parks that lost $76 million a day.
Threatening to selectively defund parts of the budget they don’t like. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) suggested to reporters Tuesday that he could consider using rescission, a parliamentary procedure that would allow lawmakers to pass some sort of a budget bill for the 2015 fiscal year by the December 11 deadline, but still “allow them to go back later on and strip out any money allocated for Obama’s immigration plan,” Fox News explained. The problem is that this procedure is like any other bill and would have to survive a presidential veto — and even the 2015 Congress will not have the votes for that.
Threatening to block confirmation of nominees to any and all vacancies, including the U.S. Attorney General and judges. After Obama officially nominated New York prosecutor Loretta Lynch to become the U.S. Attorney General, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) warned that they would possibly block her nomination over immigration reform. Their statement in part read,” The Attorney General is the President’s chief law enforcement officer. … Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the President’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”
In a Politico piece this week, Cruz reiterated the threat, calling on Republicans not to “confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial—outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists.”
Judicial nominations that “don’t get confirmed in the next few weeks will expire, meaning those nominees will have to be renominated next year and begin all over again a process that can take weeks or months,” Huffington Post reported. The consequence of such an action could leave many crucial federal court seats empty for months or even years.
Threatening not to pass any immigration legislation through Congress. President Obama’s executive action “will make the issue absolutely toxic for a decade,” Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), said last week. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who wrote a letter to the president with other Republican “Gang of Eight” senators recently warned that executive action could “dramatically harm the chances for comprehensive immigration reform.”
The president has already twice punted on executive action waiting for Republicans to move on permanent legislation. And Boehner has already stated explicitly that he cannot guarantee Congress will do anything about immigration reform even if Obama doesn’t act. Even when House Republicans came up with a set of immigration principles, Boehner (R-OH) said that he “never underestimated the difficulty” of pushing immigration reform through Congress. Every day that nothing happens, more individuals like Angela Navarro are deported. Navarro is now taking sanctuary in a Philadelphia church until her final deportation order has been cleared.
Threatening to impeach Obama. Republican lawmakers including Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Joe Barton (R-TX), and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) have all hinted that impeachment of Obama would be an option. “Everything is on the table,” King said. While gathering the two-third vote in the Senate needed for impeachment is a pipe dream, even the threat of impeachment could prove yet another distraction from the primary task of passing laws.
Threatening to sue the President. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said a lawsuit would be a better alternative to a government shutdown. But he also called the executive action a “cynical ploy” to distract Republicans from other agenda items. “Come out with me on the road and I’ll tell you there aren’t a whole lot of people talking about immigration reform,” he said. Some 7 percent of American kids k-12 have an undocumented parent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) also called a lawsuit a “very real possibiility,” and accused Obama of “sticking his finger into the eye of the American people.” Boehner has previously threatened to broaden the scope of an unfiled lawsuit against the President to immigration if he took executive action.
Despite the threats, the fact of the matter is that every president since President Dwight Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration. There have been 11 U.S. presidents who have taken executive action on immigration, with the two most recent Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. extending “amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986.”