When the Going Gets Tough, the Republicans Get Symbolic

10423750_10152958544479474_2017238773433518836_nPresident Obama has acted boldly to create a constitutional crisis, not to mention an immigration one. He has bypassed Congress and the Constitution and declared amnesty with work authorization for some 5 million illegal aliens and amnesty without work authorization for nearly all of the rest.

Marshalling their collective outrage, House Republicans approved a bill expressing their disapproval of the president’s actions that, by their own admission, is purely symbolic. The bill will not see the light of day in the Senate, which is still under Democratic control. Meanwhile, they intend to kick the can down the road on substantive action to defund the president’s illegal amnesty program until February or March. Even worse, the House leadership is making no commitment to defund the executive amnesty even then, when both houses of Congress will be in Republican control.

Appropriations measures originate in the House. Thus, House Republicans have the power to send a bill to the Senate that explicitly bars the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from carrying out the president’s amnesty program. Harry Reid can easily duck a symbolic rebuke of the president. It is much more difficult and costly to him and his party to block a bill funding DHS with the current Continuing Resolution about to run out on Dec. 11.

Nobody wants another government shutdown – total or partial – least of all the Republicans who have taken the blame for past shutdowns. However, in this case, it would be Reid and the Democrats who would be in the position of holding a vital department of the federal government hostage to an unpopular lame duck president’s unlegislated amnesty program for illegal aliens. The finger-pointing over who is responsible for the Democrats’ midterm debacle is already in full-swing – much of it directed at the president and Reid. There may be more than a handful of Democrats in both houses who would find it difficult to stand in the way of funding DHS over an unconstitutional amnesty.

The Republicans have the opportunity to force this issue now. The American people are not going to be impressed by symbolic gestures. Needless to say, neither will the president and the millions of illegal aliens set to be rewarded by an amnesty the Republicans seem unprepared to defund.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    Most Republicans want illegals here. They use them to undermine the unions and hold down wages. Big money donors back these GOP pols, while at the same time it gives them cover. Listen to the Texas Republicans anti-Obama rhetoric, while they refuse to pass e-verify.

  2. avatar

    Regardless of their view on immigration, any American with even half a brain should be opposed to the president usurping legislative authority from Congress with his imperial decree of amnesty for illegal aliens. To paraphrase a famous Founding Father, executive and legislative authority in the same hands is the very definition of tyranny. But I guess it’s more important to Americans to watch the games at the Coliseum, er, I mean idiotic TV shows while their nation falls apart around them.

    • avatar

      Pedrito….really?…so if so your famous Founding father must have been an idiot from a different country……since what Obama did is allowed……..

  3. avatar

    Yeah, the GOP talked big. Now they can put up or shut up. I guess a lot of them forgot the election rebuke handed to GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor a few months ago. They are making a mistake in assuming that public dislike of this president means they can do what they want and ignore the wishes of the voters who gave them a huge landslide last month.

    • avatar

      The Two Party System in America Had its Heydays

      They’re over now and with just the immigration example alone, its clear the two parties will put all their effort into dismantling American security and hardly no effort at all building up American security.