The dome of the US Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C., September 20, 2008.
Karen Bleier/AFP Photo

GOP discovers the virtue of unilateral presidential action

Updated
With less than a week before Congress leaves town for a month-long break, legislative prospects appear bleak. President Obama called weeks ago for action on the border crisis, but there’s now very little hope that lawmakers will get anything done.
 
Yesterday, as msnbc’s Jane Timm reported, House Speaker John Boehner gave the White House an ultimatum: accept changes to the Bush/Cheney-era human-trafficking law that allows immigrants from non-contiguous countries to seek asylum in the U.S., or House Republicans will refuse to pass a bill.
 
It’s reached the point at which the same GOP lawmakers who’ve condemned the president for trying to work around Congress are now urging the president to circumvent Congress.
Even as Congress jousts over a legislative response to the influx of child migrants from Central America, [a group of Texas Republican lawmakers] contend the president can take unilateral steps to end the crisis immediately. “You have the authority to stop the surge of illegal entries by immigrant minors today,” the Republicans wrote Thursday in a letter to Obama. […]
 
The recommendations include empowering local law enforcement agencies to prosecute federal immigration laws; cracking down on immigration fraud; speeding up deportations of the new arrivals; and ending the administration’s deferred action program, which allows some illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to remain and work without fear of deportation.
Apparently, some GOP lawmakers believe unilateral White House actions are evidence of a tyrannical dictatorship, unless Obama is acting unilaterally on an issue they care about, in which case they’re all for executive authority.
 
It’s funny how that happens.
 
There is, however, a related question that’s gone largely overlooked lately: if House Republicans support a far-right proposal that deploys the National Guard and changes the 2008 human-trafficking law, why don’t they just pass one? After all, the GOP is in the majority in the House and if they want to approve a conservative plan, they can, right?
 
Well, it’s not quite that simple. In theory, sure, House Republicans can pass anything they please, but in this case, that’s not possible. As Greg Sargent reported this week, far-right lawmakers are pushing to make sure the House approves literally nothing on this issue, in part because they don’t want to address the problem at all and in part because if the lower chamber does pass a bill, it might lead to a compromise with the Senate,
 
And as we know, Republicans really won’t tolerate compromises.
 
It’s led to a bizarre scenario: Boehner is whining that Obama isn’t doing enough to push House Democrats to support a Republican bill. Indeed, if House Republicans do absolutely nothing, after complaining for months about the need for action, the Speaker will say it’s the president’s fault for not telling Dems to vote the way Republicans want them to.
 
No, seriously, that’s the argument. Boehner once again can’t round up Republican votes for a Republican bill, so he’s convinced himself that Obama’s to blame.
 
It’s also why the very same GOP officials who claim to hate unilateral presidential action have suddenly discovered the virtues of Obama making policy moves irrespective of Congress.
 

House Republicans, Immigration Policy and Separation Of Powers

GOP discovers the virtue of unilateral presidential action

Updated