President Obama demonstrated his complete ownership over his Republican opponents as GOP members of Congress have been left scrambling after his executive action expanding background checks.
One powerful appropriator, Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), has threatened to block federal funding for the Department of Justice unless the president’s actions are reversed. But last year’s trillion-dollar spending deal already funds the department through September, limiting the GOP’s leverage.
The courts are another option. GOP lawmakers are expected to sue to stop Obama’s gun-control proposals from taking effect, a step they’ve taken in the past in fights over executive power. But the legal route almost certainly would result in a drawn-out process that might not be resolved until well after Obama leaves office in early 2017.
Republicans could force a showdown with Democrats sooner by trying to attach a provision rolling back the gun actions to important legislation. One option would be the Federal Aviation Administration policy bill that Congress must pass by March 31; a second would be legislation to ease Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.
Several House Republicans are expected to introduce legislation to combat the executive actions in the coming days, though Obama certainly would veto such bills.
In other words, Republicans are pretty much screwed.
If one wants to know why Obama didn’t take this action sooner, the answer can be found in the lack of options that the President’s timing has left Republicans with.
Republicans can’t block funding because of the budget deal and government funding bill that was just passed and signed before the holidays. The courts would take too long since President Obama will be out of office. Republicans can try to attach rescinding of the executive actions to must-pass legislation, but since the President is not on the ballot in 2016, the term “must pass legislation” applies more to the Republican majority in Congress than to Obama.
With the exception of throwing a public temper tantrum, there isn’t a whole lot that Republicans can do about Obama’s executive action. Any action that Republicans may take against the publicly popular expansion of background checks may harm their own chances of winning in 2016. President Obama has once again placed Republicans on the defensive as they are left trying to respond to his agenda.
One of the reasons why Republicans hate President Obama so much is that no matter what they do to block him, this president finds a way to get things done and win for the American people. Republicans in Congress are again on the defensive, because even as his term in office winds down President Barack Obama is still dominating his political opponents.