It has been a raucous summer for the GOP House. John Boehner’s threats to Obama flew, some right at the president, others at his Democratic enablers in the Senate. The White House plan to spend billions to aid foreign intruders went down the drain. The border bill tanked. The Senate left town. Republicans came back. Boehner aimed a taunt at his Senate opponent:
Senator Reid, embarrassed that he cannot strong-arm the Senate into passing the blank check President Obama demanded, is making a deceitful and cynical attempt to derail the House’s common-sense solution. So let me be as clear as I can be with Senator Reid: the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion.1
House Republicans had the president and Harry Reid where they wanted them. What did they do? They gave up and went home.
Will Boehner’s threats to Obama go anywhere?
Bluster and bombast play well for the media, but the truth is House Republicans did exactly what the president warned us they would do. Nothing. Despite Boehner’s threats to Obama about the border bill and a lawsuit, the ball is in the president’s court and that’s where the White House wants it. Obama has control of the bully pulpit because Congress is gone. He didn’t waste time getting the word out about GOP threats to his presidency:
Keep in mind that just a few days earlier, they voted to sue me for acting on my own. And then when they couldn’t pass a bill yesterday, they put out a statement suggesting I should act on my own because they couldn’t pass a bill.2
As if we needed further proof that the president can and will act on his own, he signed off on another executive order the same day he made the lawsuit remarks. As the ink dried on the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, he made sure everyone knew who was responsible:
We’ve acted on our own to make sure federal contractors can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity — because you shouldn’t be fired because of who you love. (Applause.) If you’re doing the job, you should be treated fairly and judged on your own merits. (Applause.)3
The president doesn’t go on a five-week vacation. He takes two weeks and knows how to seize the day when the time is right. With Congress out of session, he can do pretty much anything he wants. Other than a reprimand or two from the Supreme Court, no one has figured out how to stop him. Boehner’s threats to Obama are one thing. Making good on them is another.
Despite threats to Obama, Republicans drop the ball. Again.
Harry Reid’s Senate gave up on its illegal waifs last week and scuttled home. The ball was in Boehner’s court. He dropped it, despite a salvo fired at Reid for doing the same thing House Republicans were about to do:
If President Obama needs these resources, he will urge Senate Democrats to put politics aside, come back to work, and approve our bill.4
House votes on conservative bills mean nothing after the Obamacare repeal turned into a stunt that removed all credibility from House-only actions. The GOP is not going to stop Obama from doing what he wants any more than it stopped prosecutorial discretion and deferred action (DACA). When Boehner included the DREAM Act in his list of what Harry Reid should not include in a Senate border bill (remarks at Speaker.gov), Reid didn’t have to worry. Obama passed the DREAM Act with DACA. That was two years ago. Extensions are already underway.
The House didn’t pass anything last week that would do more than set the stage for an election season battle that will go nowhere. Since the nation was still paying attention, here’s what Republicans should have put in their legislation:
Repeal of DACA and cancellation of extensions. Republicans should have done something about this one the moment it was announced by the White House.
No new funding for the border or for taking care of those who slipped through. The president and Homeland Security told us the border is secure because of the resources already committed (see: Lies About the Border Reveal Obama’s Policy of Deceit). Were they lying?
Fix the 2008 law that could allow illegal kids to stay.
Start the repeal of birthright citizenship. Only an idiot would spend more money to keep people out while promising them citizenship for their kids if they manage to get in.
Republicans added $41 million to their original offer. Dumping deferred action wasn’t on the table, only slowing its spread. Did the GOP want to take a strong position, or keep this one going so they have another safe, dead end issue to keep themselves in the public eye this fall?
Republicans need to threaten less, work harder.
With the Senate gone, Republicans had an opportunity dumped in their laps. Congress’s work wasn’t finished. House Republicans could have stayed on the job. They could have waited while demanding that Senators return to Washington. They could have left Obama on the hot seat. They blew it. What will come next? An executive order while House Republicans are pulling on their topsiders.
Politics in the age of Obama has turned into a hideous game with no wins for anyone but the president. Conservatives keep up their calls to take back the country and save America, but if they are looking at this Republican Party they should be looking somewhere else. In the end, vacation is vacation and a taxpayer-supported job is just a job. While talk sounds good and GOP threats to Obama draw our attention when the cameras are flashing, hard work is another thing. Republicans need to talk less and work harder so they can make good on those threats.