Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said Thursday (November 20, 2014) that it would be “impossible” to defund President Obama’s illegal executive action granting legal status and work permits – and bestowing benefits – to illegal aliens. Rogers’ argument is that because USCIS, the agency that would be tasked with implementing Obama’s diktat, is funded through user fees not Congressional appropriations, Congress has no control over its operations.
First, Rogers ignores the fact that USCIS would not have a statutory basis for collecting fees in order to implement an illegal executive action. Brushing aside the constitutional question, which the Republican leadership obviously is anxious to do, fiscally it is preposterous to suggest that the executive branch could carry out from scratch a massive legalization process without spending one cent of taxpayer money allocated to it by Congress. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was right to say “I just don’t believe that.” No one should. It isn’t true. In simple, plain language, Congress could prohibit any funds from being used to carry out Obama’s executive actions (for instance preventing the issuance of Social Security cards), and it could reiterate that USCIS is not authorized to charge fees to cover a program not authorized by law.
By denying that Congress has the authority to prevent President Obama from assuming dictatorial powers, Rogers, acting under the authority of Speaker John Boehner, not only puts this matter to “rest” allowing members to skip town early for Thanksgiving, it sets up a scenario where the only option that Republicans opposed to Obama’s extra-constitutional scheme have open to them is a government shutdown or impeachment. Both of these options have been termed “extreme” by leadership.
The scenario, should Rogers and leadership in the House succeed, would be as follows: Obama gets his amnesty, the House passes a long-term budget omnibus with no defunding language, and the constitutionalist “wacko birds” will be tarred as obstructionists for trying to block its passage in the Senate. For Republican leaders, marginalizing Ted Cruz and crushing the Tea Party is more important than defending the republic during a constitutional crisis. In the thinking of the Republican establishment, this would set the table for Jeb Bush in 2016, who wants a permanent “solution” to the broken immigration system –i.e. open borders – and who would have the help of Republican leaders in getting such a bill through Congress.
If that scenario isn’t true, what is the explanation for Republicans’ acquiescence in the face of a presidential action that is neither constitutional nor popular with the American people?
Related Resource(s): Executive Amnesty Will Give Illegal Aliens Taxpayer Funded Benefits