In case any of you were planning on writing a book explaining the problems with the modern day Whig party (aka Republican Party), Sen. James Risch (R-ID), a member of the obscurity caucus, has emerged from the witness protection program to save you some time.
There you have it. No matter how unlawful, no matter how harmful the policy is that Democrats are pursuing, it is always Republicans who must bend. What’s stopping Obama from doing anything he wants at this point?
What’s worse is that, with his comments, Risch is essentially crowning Obama king. He is stating unambiguously that as long as Democrats hold firm in their position – no matter how unlawful, egregious, and deleterious to the nation – they will not hold firm. The House must only pass bills that adhere to the Senate minority and Obama’s position.
James Risch may as well pack his bags and go back home to Idaho now that he has made it clear Obama can do what he wants.
Let’s rewind and review the legislative process for a moment.
When it comes to passing legislation, three federal bodies are required to change a statute: the House, Senate, and White House. But when it comes to control over funding for departments and agencies, as long as one body holds firm, they can control the funding. In particular, James Madison noted in Federalist #58 that the House, with its majority rule, can use the power of the purse “as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance.”
There is no greater grievance than preventing a president from rewriting our immigration laws and overwriting our borders and sovereignty with the stroke of an imperial pen. Republicans in the House passed a clean funding bill that funds every lawful aspect of DHS, by Obama’s own 22 admissions.
“We are unable to get on this bill to amend it. And a result of that, the House is going to have to send us another bill that we can get on,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said after a lunch with the Senate GOP conference. Before the lunch, Senate Democrats managed to filibuster the House-passed DHS spending bill for the third day in a row because of its riders that would kill President Obama’s immigration policies. Democrats “are locked up against it,” Risch acknowledged, adding, “There’s nothing we can do.”
There is no greater abuse of power than a president misusing and abusing funding, assets, and personnel of DHS for an unlawful purpose that is antithetical to the core mission of the department.
Yes, Obama controls the White House and Democrats have a filibuster-strong minority in the Senate. But Republicans control the House and the floor process of the Senate. There is no compromising on a bill like this. Why is it then, that Obama’s veto or the Democrat filibuster is the end point? Why not the fact that House Republicans cannot, and must not, move off a basic funding bill that reestablishes control of the legislative branch over federal statutes? Why isn’t every Republican saying Obama and the Democrats will have to move towards the Republican position? After all, elections have consequences.
But, alas, as we noted last week, you can’t fight for something if you don’t fundamentally believe in its virtues. And Democrats know that most Republicans don’t believe in the veracity of their views.
Republican leaders have made it clear they will not even block nominees, a move that only requires 51 votes and does not risk the much-feared shutdown.
What if Obama were to decide he’s not leaving office at the end of his term? Let’s say House Republicans, in response to this act of tyranny, pass a government-funding bill defunding Obama’s use of the Executive Office of the President. Democrats in the Senate proceed to filibuster the bill and Obama threatens a veto. Would Senator Risch suggest the House “send us another bill that we can get on?”
We probably don’t want to find out the answer to that question.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.