Monday morning snapshot: GOP preparing Christmas gifts for Obama

· December 14, 2015  
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J. Scott Applewhite | AP Images

Last week, Republicans passed a five-day Continuing Resolution to continue funding the government, including all of Obama’s priorities, through Wednesday night.  In case you thought this reflected recalcitrance on the part of Republicans to fund everything Obama wants in a long-term omnibus bill, think again.  They have no intention to fight for any of the 9 fundamental issues we detailed last week. They just needed an extra few days to gift wrap their Christmas package for Obama and possibly toss in some more goodies, all the while leaving the American people with nothing but a lump of coal for the coming year.

Here is what to watch for:

Middle East Refugees and Immigration

Baseline:

At a time when the administration can’t even tell the American people how many Syrians are already in the country who have overstayed their visas, they plan to bring in thousands more from the Middle East this year.  Watch for Republicans to slip in the phony visa waiver bill that addresses European non-immigrant visas (and doesn’t solve anything), while codifying Obama’s agenda of immigration from the Middle East.

As Sen. Sessions said, “The omnibus [spending bill] would put the U.S. on a path to approve admission for hundreds of thousands of migrants from a broad range of countries with jihadists movements.”

What to watch for:

Sessions, along with fellow Alabamian, Sen. Richard Shelbyhas introduced an appropriations plan to place the following riders in the budget bill:

  • A provision to deny the expenditure of grant funds in the omnibus legislation for Sanctuary Cities
  • A provision to deny the expenditure of funds to issue visas to countries that refuse to repatriate criminal aliens
  • A provision to prevent the expenditure of any funds on immigration programs that waive in-person interviews
  • A provision to withhold refugee resettlement funds until Congress passes a joint resolution to authorize refugee resettlement, ending the President’s unilateral refugee power”

As you can see, this plan deals with the broader security issues from new immigration, sanctuary cities, and criminal aliens.  The third provision completely suspends the Visa Waiver Program, unlike the bill Republicans will likely push, which does not suspend a single nation from the program or practically change existing policy.

In the House, Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Lamar Smith of Texas and Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania have submitted legislation suspending the refugee program until the following criteria are met:

  • Congress passes a joint resolution approving the President’s refugee resettlement plan
  • CBO provides a report to Congress scoring the long term cost of refugee resettlement operations
  • DHS submits a report to Congress identifying terrorist and criminal activity of refugees admitted into the U.S. since 2001
  • The President submits a report to Congress of the prior year’s cost of admitting refugees and proposes offsetting spending cuts to pay for resettlement

Watch for several members to ask Rules Committee to allow a vote on this plan in the budget bill.  Until now, Speaker Paul Ryan has blocked all amendments to critical legislation.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for a change.

Obamacare Christmas Present for Unions and Health Care Industry

Baseline:

The other major legislation the GOP-led Congress could possibly move before Christmas break is a $108.4 billion, two-year extension of temporary tax pork, known as tax extenders.  Last year, I wrote a column for Breitbart explaining the broader problems with the concept of tax extenders and how they mix legitimate tax cuts with parochial green energy subsidies.  This debate has been going on for years and bubbles over at the end of every calendar year.  However, the important issue for this year is the plan to bail out the health insurance industry with a suspension of some Obamacare tax hikes.

What to watch for:

There is a bipartisan group of members from the House Ways and Means Committee as well as the Senate Finance Committee looking to slip in a two year suspension of several Obamacare tax hikes. They include the medical device tax, the tax on high-end employer subsidized “Cadillac” health insurance plans, and $11 billion in taxes on insurance companies.

While some conservatives might welcome the opportunity to repeal any part of Obamacare, Republicans should never bail out the industry from the misery they helped create.  The health insurance industry supported Obamacare because they were promised a bailout, known as the “risk corridor” program, to backfill the loss from plans that are not actuarially sound.  Now that this bailout is gone and the industry is facing a $2.5 billion shortfall, they are looking for tax relief.  Why should conservatives help the lobbyists who want to keep the rest of Obamacare simply repeal the components that most harm their industry?


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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.