Let’s be very clear on something. When the Republican-controlled United States House of Representatives voted 236-191 to defund President Obama’s executive order giving amnesty to illegal immigrants last week, only a minority of its members did so out of principle.
The remainder, especially the GOP leadership, signaled their votes were not against amnesty. In spite of campaign rhetoric that suggests otherwise, they want it as a payoff for their friends at the Chamber of Commerce. They just don’t want the President stepping on their toes to do so. More importantly, they have to find a way to thread the needle so as to fool (they hope) their conservative base, a base adamantly opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants.
It was the conundrum of the entire 2014 political cycle for the Establishment. With their friends at the Chamber of Commerce pushing “comprehensive” immigration reform on the Hill in Washington, DC and playing heavily in primaries against conservative candidates, it was clear that the Chamber and Establishment had one objective in mind this election season: to elect a majority of amnesty friendly Republicans.
The trick was getting them past the electorate, which, as we have noted, was accomplished by telling voters what they wanted to hear, not what they were actually going to do.
In fact, the Chamber’s political director, Rob Engstrom, recently took a leave of absence to help Jeb Bush’s Presidential campaign get off the ground, a campaign whose core tenets of amnesty and Common Core are not going to mesh with the conservative base that votes in the primaries (issues that the Chamber proactively spent millions of dollars on last year).
With the House passed bill that stripped funding for amnesty about to be taken up by the Senate, the political gamesmanship has already begun and this is how it will play out.
Any amendments, especially the Aderholdt amendment, that strip funding for amnesty from the Department of Homeland Funding bill will mysteriously disappear in the black hole of principle called the Senate because, “The votes just aren’t there!” and “The President will veto this anyway, so why bother?”
While saying all the right things (as he is known to do), the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell is currently finding ways to remove the “offending” portions of the House bill to send it back to the House. The messaging will be, “Yes, we may have the House and the Senate, but without the White House, there is only so much we can do. We must avoid a government shutdown!”
Now, if this seems like a Charlie Brown moment for the conservative movement, you would be correct in that assumption. The GOP Establishment promised over and over again this past election cycle, “If you just put us on the field, we’re going to score for you!” Lucy-like, however, they are getting ready to yank the ball away at the last minute and as the conservative movement whiffs and wonders where the ball went, the Establishment will again reiterate to us, “There is nothing we can do right now. Give us two more years to set the stage for taking the White House and THEN we can really get stuff done around here.”
While many cheered the House vote last week, it was simply a show vote. The real vote is going to happen when the Senate sends its version of the House bill (stripped of any and all defunding amendments) back to the House and asks the House to pass it.
This is the vote conservatives need to pay attention to and expect their Members to fight the GOP leadership in both chambers. It is here that we must put the pressure on conservatives in the House to take down the rule.