Congress’ effort to fund the Department of Homeland Security isn’t going well. With an end-of-the-month deadline looming, the Republican-led House insists it won’t fund DHS unless Congress destroys President Obama’s immigration policy. The Republican-led Senate can’t pass the right-wing House bill – even if it did, a White House veto awaits – and a partial shutdown is a distinct possibility.
There is, of course, an obvious solution: Congress can simply fund the Department of Homeland Security at the spending levels both parties have already agreed to. GOP lawmakers, however, don’t like this solution.
Enter Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who yesterday unveiled what she described as a “compromise” to resolve the impasse.
The Maine centrist Republican filed an amendment Wednesday that would allow Obama’s 2012 executive action to stand. That executive action set up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which offers safe harbor to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the country as children and have maintained a clean record.The Collins proposal would repeal Obama’s executive action from November that would grant de facto legal status to the immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, which would affect up to 5 million immigrants.
By some accounts, this is an approach Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he could support – and nothing says “sound, bipartisan policymaking” like a Ted Cruz endorsement.
It’s times like these when I wonder if Republicans literally don’t understand what a compromise is.
Under Collins’ approach, the policy the president adopted in 2012 protecting Dream Act kids would be allowed to remain intact, but the protections Obama extended to immigrants last year would simply disappear. “Sorry, 5 million immigrants,” Congress would effectively declare. “It’s time to go back to the shadows and prepare for the possibility of deportation.”
If Democrats go along with this “compromise,” Republicans would agree to release the hostage (i.e., they wouldn’t gut Homeland Security funding as part of a ridiculous partisan tantrum).
There are quite a few problems with this, though Jim Newell highlighted the most important flaw:
The idea of funding DHS on a short-term basis was to buy the party a few more months to figure out how it would respond to President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration. Conservatives wanted to undo the 2014 executive actions through the appropriations process; moderates and the leadership didn’t think that was feasible. So leadership threw conservatives a bone in the form of a protest vote and punted DHS into the new Congress.When the House Republicans in the new Congress drew up their DHS appropriations plan at the beginning of the year, they threw in a DACA repeal on top of the one repealing the 2014 actions. This came as a surprise, because it was the addition of one aggressive demand on top of another.
Exactly right. The whole point of the GOP’s endeavor was to attack the immigration policy Obama unveiled last November. Last month, however, Republicans tacked on a provision gutting the 2012 policy, in a “as long as we’re here…” sort of way.
Collins’ plan effectively tells Democrats, “We want our new demands, but we’ll settle for our recent demands.” Republicans are willing to trade the January 2015 ransom note for their December 2014 ransom note.
There is no scenario in which this qualifies as a “compromise.” Giving Republicans what they say they wanted, in exchange for nothing, all while needlessly punishing millions of people, is not a solution anyone should take seriously.
Maine’s Collins is often seen as the Senate’s most moderate Republican member, and that’s arguably an accurate assessment. But it’s also a reminder that what passes for GOP centrism in 2015 really isn’t “moderate” at all.