While in Australia, President Obama held firm in the face of Republican government shutdown threats by telling congressional Republicans to pass an immigration reform bill, or he will act alone.
The president was asked by ABC News about immigration, and he answered, “There is a very simple solution to this perception that somehow I’m exercising too much executive authority: pass a bill I can sign on this issue. If Congress passes a law that solves our border problems, improves our legal immigration system, and provides a pathway for the 11 million who are here working in our kitchens, working on farms, making beds in hotels. Everybody knows they’re there. We’re not going to deport all of them. We’d like to see them being able out in the open to pay their taxes, pay a penalty, get right with the law. Give me a bill that addresses those issues. I’ll be the first one to sign it, and metaphorically, I’ll crumple up whatever executive actions that we take and we’ll toss them in the wastebasket because we will now have a law that addresses these issues.”
President Obama knows that he has Republicans dead in the water. If he issues his executive orders, the Republican Party is going to meltdown and the division over shutting down the government is going to move to the front and center of our politics for the rest of the year. If the president acts alone on immigration, he sets up the Democratic Party to continue to be an attractive option for Hispanic voters.
Obama and the Democrats can’t lose on this issue. Republicans are too fractured on immigration to pass a bill, and they are deeply divided on what their response should be if Obama issues his executive orders. The president’s party lost the midterm election, but Obama is causing chaos in the new Republican majority before they take office.
The president has learned to play Republicans against each other while not giving them anything. Boehner and McConnell need a lifeline to silence the growing calls in their caucuses for a government shutdown, but Obama isn’t going to give them a thing. Republicans will eventually crack and yield to the president’s will.
The smart thing for congressional Republicans to do would be to urge Speaker Boehner to bring the Senate passed immigration reform bill to the House floor for a vote before the end of the year. Since Boehner is afraid that the bill would pass with Democratic support, he is refusing to allow a vote.
Instead, congressional Republicans are defaulting back to their standard behavior of fighting with each other while blaming Obama. The president’s refusal to back down is a dare. Obama is daring Republicans to either pass an immigration reform bill or shut the government down. The president’s behavior should serve as a warning to Boehner and McConnell. They won’t win any government shutdown’s because Obama won’t stop until the Republican Party breaks.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association