Will Immigration Reform Cause A Government Shutdown This Winter... Again?
The American public could be mired in another fight between the Republicans and the Democrats — well, really, Obama, because that seems to be the political pattern that has developed over the years — as the GOP is expected to make moves against the President's anticipated announcement on immigration reform that could cause another government shutdown.
Seriously?! You'd think that after last year's fiasco, D.C. lawmakers would want to avoid that route at all costs, but the GOP are so dead set against Obama passing a comprehensive immigration bill that many of them are using the upcoming vote on the spending bill to hinder Obama's plan for immigration reform.
Federal agencies are set to run out of money soon, and Congress is expected to pass a spending bill that would fund said agencies on Dec. 11. But Republican hard-liners are pushing the House Appropriations Committee to attach language about immigration in the spending bill, such as barring them from giving out visas, green cards and work permits — the very bases for an immigrant's ability to stay in the country. And it's likely that Obama won't accept that.
Hal Rogers, the House Appropriations Committee Chairman and Republican Representative who is against a shutdown, told the Wall Street Journal it was unrealistic to expect Obama to sign a spending bill that included anything on immigration, adding:
I don’t want a shutdown. You should not take a hostage that you can’t shoot.
The newly elected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that a government shutdown is not on the table. But clearly, Republicans are split on the course of action to take to prevent Obama from going at it alone on immigration. Many, like Rogers and McConnell, do not want a shutdown, but the more conservative Republican lawmakers say that they should deal with Obama in whichever way possible, reported WSJ.
Arizona Representative Matt Salmon, whose grand idea it was to organize a letter urging the House Appropriations Committee to include immigration in the spending bill, has collected over 50 signatures from House Republicans. Salmon also told CNN that the President was in danger of overstepping his authority:
Everybody has said they want to do something to stop his recklessness. If we have an opportunity to actually do something rather than complain…why shouldn’t we?
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Obama's eternal nemesis, said that a government shutdown is not the GOP's goal, but refused to rule it out. To Reuters, he said:
We are going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path. All of the options are on the table.
Our goal here is to stop the president from violating his own oath of office and from violating the Constitution. It is not to shut down the government.
Obama has promised to make moves to protect some of the 12 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, and is set to announce his plans as early as next week. But a stubborn Republican-controlled Congress does not seem like it will budge on the issue, especially if Obama decides to go all the way with unilateral action. The government shutdown in 2013 cost the U.S. economy a staggering $24 billion, and extensive damage to the GOP's image. The government, as a whole, was also scorned by the public for its utter incompetence.
Last year, the government shut down because of a tiff over Obamacare; this year it could be about immigration. I'm sensing a pattern here — a new D.C. tradition, perhaps?
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