By Tony Perkins
With just a handful of days left of Democratic control, Christmas recess can’t come soon enough for most conservatives. But before the movers start clearing out the Senate Majority Leader’s office, there’s plenty left to do under the scaffolds of the Capitol dome. Priority number one is bankrolling the federal government for the next fiscal year — a testy process that just became ground zero in the battle over immigration reform.
Reaching a consensus on the spending bills is difficult enough, but now that conservatives are willing to play hardball with government funding to make a statement on the President’s amnesty order, it’s anyone’s guess how (or when) the lame duck session will end.
Today, the House took its first crack at the White House’s decision to exempt as many as five million people from the consequences of breaking U.S. immigration law. Under a bill from Florida Congressman Ted Yoho (R), members sent their first shot across the bow at the President’s gross overreach and voted 219-197 to roll back the Obama policy that 17 states are now suing over. Yoho’s H.R. 5759 takes direct aim at the executive order, insisting that “no provision of the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, or other federal law shall be interpreted or applied to authorize the executive branch of the government to exempt, by executive order, regulation, or any other means, categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws.”
Like most Americans (a majority of whom disapprove of the President’s order), Yoho was fired up about the White House’s audacity. “Allowing amnesty to illegal immigrants is an insult to the millions of Americans who stood in line and came to this country legally,” he wrote. “They worked hard, followed the law, and earned their citizenship. That is the very essence of the American dream. If you work hard and play by the rules, you will find success.”
Of course, playing by the rules has never been this administration’s strong suit — which may be why the country’s approval of his idea “is at its lowest level ever measured,” Quinnipiac reports. Only 48% of Americans believe illegal immigrants “should be allowed to stay” — down nine points since last November.
While it would take a Christmas miracle for the Senate to take up Yoho’s measure, it’s still important from a messaging standpoint. The GOP can do the rest of its talking through the budget process. For now, it looks like a surprising number of Democrats may be on board with the two-track “cromnibus” (continuing resolution plus omnibus) that would send all of the appropriations bills to the floor except Homeland Security’s (which would finance the President’s lawless order). Even outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is on board with the idea, along with far-Left Democrats like Jim Moran (D-Va.). “The fact that Homeland Security would be delayed, frankly, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not the end of the world,” Moran said. Maybe Democrats are finally waking up to the fact that they won’t have this same budget leverage next year when the Chairmanships change hands.
Either way, conservatives are hopeful that this same spirit of cooperation translates to the inclusion of standard pro-life riders in annual spending bills. For groups like FRC, the omnibus is key, because it’s one of the few ways to force a vote on important policies like the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA).
As we explained earlier this week, Californians are steaming over an August rule that orders every state insurance plan to cover abortion. And that means religious schools, organizations, and even churches have virtually no choice but to buy health care plans that violate their conscience. Under ANDA, Californians would finally have the legal grounds they need to sue the state for their conscience rights. Fortunately, Congressmen like Tim Huelskamp (R-Kans.) are ready to go to the mat to fight for the inclusion of policies like ANDA. You can help. Contact your representative and ask them to make ANDA a priority in any must-pass legislation!
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.