In the aftermath of Thursday’s debacle of a speech, in which our president crossed a Rubicon of his own making and transformed himself into a tin-pot ruler of Third World quality, the incoming GOP Senate majority and the soon-to-expand Republican House majority are faced with a stiff challenge as the current Congress ends and the new one is sworn in next year.
What Obama has done—asserting the right to legalize millions of trespassers and squatters against the expressed wishes of Congress and in contravention of settled federal law by use of what he and his minions term “prosecutorial discretion”—cannot stand. GOP leadership on Capitol Hill needs to overreact to it in order to set an example. Sure, amnesty is atrocious policy, for all kinds of reasons. The real issue at stake, however, is the poisoning of our constitutional system of checks and balances by a president who believes, after saying two dozen times the opposite, that he can invent for himself the power to overturn federal law by fiat.
One might reasonably suggest such conduct meets the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and ought to be the end of the Obama presidency. But we all know that it won’t be, for complicated reasons—the partisanship of Senate Democrats, the history and politics surrounding impeachment proceedings.
With appropriate remedy for Obama’s Thursday spectacle unavailable, the GOP must find alternatives that will not only negate his policy but rebuke him for spilling the banks of his authority. Here are five, in hopes the Republicans will act on most, if not all.
1. Yes, Defund The Bogus Fiat Amnesty. The Federalist’s Sean Davis took the squishes to task last week for their attempts to sell impotence, and he was correct on all points:
The excuse they’re trying to make is that because the USCIS, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is funded primarily by mandatory, rather than discretionary spending, that they have no way to whack it with an annual appropriations bill. USCIS is funded by fees it collects, the argument goes, and since those fees aren’t subject to annual appropriations, Congress can’t monkey with them in an annual appropriations bill.
…The only thing that differentiates mandatory and discretionary spending is how often each must be re-authorized. Every single dollar spent by the federal government must be first appropriated by Congress. Just because some spending is not subject to annual appropriation doesn’t mean it’s not subject to appropriation at all. Congress can’t block Obama’s executive order by shutting down the government, but it most certainly can defund it by law.
Put a rider defunding the amnesty in every single bill Congress passes until they pile up high on Obama’s desk. The government might shut down as a result, but on this one the American people will side with the GOP.
2. Censure. When the Bill Clinton impeachment mess was unfolding in 1998, the Senate Democrats’ response to House Republican talk of impeaching the president was a resolution of censure for his conduct. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced, with 37 co-sponsors, a pretty stiff bill of particulars of Clinton’s misuse of office, and a personal statement that Clinton was a dirty SOB to boot.
At National Review, John Fund suggests that censure be revisited, noting:
A resolution of censure would also serve as a warning, a sort of constitutional yellow card, that Congress and the American people will not tolerate abuses of power indefinitely and that presidents who so abuse their power risk having a blot on their record and creating a climate in which further steps — from defunding executive-branch programs all the way up to impeachment — are contemplated.
By itself, censure is far too weak to serve as a sufficient response to Obama’s fiat. It’s a statement for posterity more than anything else. So we’ve got more to offer.
3. Back Off, Or You Get No Appointees. Ted Cruz suggested this to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, and it’s been hinted at both by McConnell and Boehner, Essentially, the Senate would approve none of the president’s appointees, with the exception of positions related to national security, until he rescinds his immigration executive order.
“Step number one that I have called for is the incoming majority leader should announce that if the president implements this lawless amnesty, that the Senate will not confirm any executive or judicial nominees, other than vital national security positions, for the next two years,” Cruz said. “If the majority leader would announce that, it would impose real consequences on the president and the administration.”
There is some question whether Cruz’s plan would deny Loretta Lynch confirmation as attorney general. There shouldn’t be. Obama should get zero nominees confirmed until he rescinds Thursday’s announcement—period.
4. The State of The Union Is Broken. Another idea comes from Joel Pollak at Breitbart News:
Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his “executive amnesty” remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate—and would be far less jarring or uncomfortable than the hostile reception Obama would likely receive in person. In lieu of an address, Congress would offer to read aloud whatever document Obama saw fit to send through.
The annual State of the Union address is a relatively recent tradition; it used to be that presidents would deliver it to Congress in writing rather than in a speech. Frankly, returning to the old way would be a nice change, since Obama’s SOTU speeches are interminable rants in which Supreme Court justices are insulted, his opponents are demonized, and his political desires are elevated to the status of Biblical commandments. Enough already.
5. Mr. President, Go To Your Room. This one is my idea: kill the White House travel budget until the president rescinds the fiat amnesty.
If Obama wants to be an emperor, Congress can at least deny him the trappings of one. Grounding Air Force One and cooping His Majesty up in the White House would force Obama into actually having to make a personal sacrifice for his overreach. Sure, he’ll veto that appropriation, and risk a shutdown fight over whether he can fly on our dime to Shadow Creek or Martha’s Vineyard. But it would be worth it just to hear the silly, outraged screams from the president’s defenders on the Left, who have become brilliant at concocting excuses for his free rides—even to Democratic fundraisers. Obama had his spectacle on Thursday night—this one would match or exceed it.