The current humanitarian crisis at the border has exposed House Republicans, yet again, for the obstructionists that they are. After bearing the responsibility for squandering the best chance for comprehensive immigration reform in decades, they are once again building up to do nothing.
Yesterday, Steve Benen called out Speaker of the House John Boehner on his sleight of hand attempt to place blame for the current state of affairs anywhere other than squarely on his own shoulders, where it belongs. Benen writes:
Wait a second. Hold on. Boehner has spent months shouting, sometimes literally, about President Obama’s out-of-control power grabs. As the Speaker and his caucus see it, Obama no longer gives a darn about separation of powers, and he’s embraced a tyrannical model in which the president is king. Boehner is so outraged by Obama’s willingness to act unilaterally that the Speaker is literally going to take the White House to court.”
But when push comes to shove, Boehner’s apoplexy is a sham. When the Speaker wants a shift in U.S. policy in Iraq, he demands that Obama deploy troops on his own, whether Congress approves of the administration’s policy or not. When Boehner wants a shift in border policy and finds he’s incapable of passing a bill, he again suggests the president can do as he pleases, without regard for lawmakers’ approval.
If the Speaker of the House believes Obama should take fewer unilateral actions, fine. If Boehner believes the president should take more unilateral actions, that’s OK, too. But right now, Congress’ top Republican official is making both arguments at the same time, which suggest the Speaker isn’t even taking his own rhetoric seriously.
Democrats won’t let the GOP off the hook for their obstructionism, and as Greg Sargent points out, may seize the moment to magnify the intransigence of Republicans and, potentially, get something meaningful done in the process:
[During a meeting yesterday,] some Dems argued that House GOP leaders have boxed themselves into an untenable position — if they lose too many conservatives, they can’t pass anything without Democrats — meaning they should renew the demand for a vote on comprehensive reform. Dems know there’s no chance Republicans would agree to any such vote. But they are hoping to use the occasion to remind people that there is a broader solution on the table Republicans won’t act on. Meanwhile, they will also argue that any short term fix should only focus on solving the crisis within existing law, rather than monkeying around with ill-thought-out “get tough” legal changes that are only designed to buy Republican votes…”
From the perspective of Democrats, the really perverse thing here is that Republicans, after failing to vote on immigration reform for literally years, are now finally going to hold a real vote on something immigration-related, yet it is all about bolstering border security and could potentially hurt more children. And they want Democratic support to pass it. It’s not surprising, then, that Dems are increasingly inclined to say: No.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, remarked:
House Republicans are as predictable as they are dysfunctional. They will block resources to deal with child refugees at our border much as they blocked immigration reform. They will blame President Obama. And they will overreact when President Obama steps in and does his job because Republicans won’t do theirs.