According to President Obama, who is recovering from his sound defeat at the ballot box by insisting that people who didn’t vote support him, and therefore he has a mandate from a majority of Americans who would rather watch Lifetime movies and eat Cheet-os than make decisions about their elected leadership, has said that if Congress does not pass immigration reform by the end of the year, he’ll pass it himself, traditional Constitutional limitations on Executive authority be damned.
House and Senate Republicans have a few options, none of them particularly awesome. They could come to an agreement on an immigration reform bill like the DREAM Act that, say, grants a qualified status to registered immigrants. With government funding up for a vote in the next several weeks, they could pass a short extension of the current budget that would expire as the new Congress sits, giving the Republicans final authority in whether to fund the Presidents program. Or, they could knuckle under, fund the government through 2015, go home for Christmas and handle it all the next time they need to make an argument that they’re effective at governing the next time they face re-election.
I fully expect the latter, but word has it that Boehner and others are trying to convince Obama that an executive amnesty would preclude any lasting immigraiton reform, and limit his legacy in the area to a piece of paper that won’t hold up in court. And Joe Biden, of all people, has the other ear, telling Obama to work with Republicans lest Joe Biden’s shot at the 2016 nomination be more fleeting than it is already. And they even yelled about it over lunch like two Manhattan socialites fighting over the last pair of Chanel flats on the Neiman Marcus clearance rack.
House Speaker John Boehner’s office said he told Obama he was ready to work with the president on a new authorization for military force against the IS group if the president worked to build bipartisan support. The White House announced soon after lunch ended that the U.S. was sending as many as 1,500 more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers, trainers and security personnel as part of the mission. Obama is also asking Congress for more than $5 billion to help fund the fight.
Friday’s two-hour meeting was tense at times, according to a senior House Republican aide. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, about to lose his grip on the upper chamber, barely said a word, the aide said. The aide said at one point as House Speaker John Boehner was making an argument on immigration, Obama responded that his patience was running out and Vice President Joe Biden interrupted to ask how long Republicans needed. Obama angrily cut Biden off, the aide said.
Someone needs a nap.