Rachel Maddow reviews President Obama's stated support for immigration reform and well-documented intention to enact changes in immigration policy on his own should Congress fail to produce a bill to do so. watch
Rachel Maddow shares images and video from watch parties around the United States where people whose lives will be profoundly affected by President Obama's announcement gathered to share their joy, worry, and relief. watch
Nicolle Wallace, former Bush administration communications director, talks with Rachel Maddow about why President George W. Bush, who was also open about his support for immigration reform, was unable to see to the passage of legislation to that end. watch
Rachel Maddow points out that while the show and the network do not support drinking games, if one were to play such a game, bitter Republican rhetoric about legislative retaliation against President Obama over immigration policy is a good place to start. watch
Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary, talks with Rachel Maddow about how the Obama administration will address Republican accusations of overreach and overcome deepening partisan acrimony over immigration. watch
José Díaz-Balart, host of MSNBC's "The Rundown" and Telemundo anchor, talks with Rachel Maddow about the human side of the immigration issue that is sometimes overlooked amid the politics and partisanship. watch
* Gun violence: The man identified as the shooter who opened fire in the Florida State University library was a former prosecutor who descended into paranoia and recently posted on Facebook about being 'encouraged by your handler to kill.' ... Police say the 31-year-old was 'in a state of crisis' and believed he was being targeted by the government."
* Incredible: "A student at Florida State University said he is lucky to be alive after his backpack full of books stopped a bullet from hitting him during Thursday's shooting. Jason Derfuss said he only realized hours later the gunman had tried to shoot him when he found a bullet among the now-shredded books he had checked out of the library."
* Iran: "Far from the flashing cameras and microphones in Vienna, where Secretary of State John Kerry is going to join Iranian and United States diplomats in a final push to reach a compromise on Tehran's nuclear program, another political drama unfolded this week in a prominent auditorium in the Iranian capital."
* It was a dumb, careless, and unnecessary mistake. But given the larger context, it's hard to get too worked up about this: "The Obama administration included as many as 400,000 dental plans in a number it reported for enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, an unpublicized detail that helped surpass a goal for 7 million sign-ups."
* Nigeria: "The leader of a vigilante fighter group in Nigeria says Boko Haram militants have killed about 45 people in an attack on a village."
* South Carolina: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request to block gay marriage from proceeding in South Carolina, clearing the way for it to become the 35th U.S. state where same-sex marriage is legal."
* Meet the new Senate GOP? "A week into the lame-duck session, Senate Republicans are finding all kinds of ways to block President Barack Obama's judicial nominees -- even if that means obstructing their own nominees in the process."
For weeks, congressional Republicans opposed to President Obama's immigration policy have weighed their options, with many looking at the upcoming federal spending bill as the vehicle of choice. It's created the possibility of another GOP government shutdown.
But the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee today offered some bad news for the GOP lawmakers clamoring for a showdown: their plan may be "impossible" as a practical matter.
In a statement released by Committee Chairman Hal Rogers's (R-Ky.) office hours before Obama's scheduled national address, the committee said the primary agency responsible for implementing Obama's actions is funded entirely by user fees.
As a result, the committee said the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) agency would be able to continue to collect fees and carry out its operations even if the government shut down.
As The Hillreported, the House Appropriations Committee issued a written statement, saying, "This [CIS] agency is entirely self-funded through the fees it collects on various immigration applications. Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the 'E-Verify' program. Therefore, the appropriations process cannot be used to 'defund' the agency."
Rogers' spokesperson went on to tell reporters, "We cannot, literally cannot, defund that agency in an appropriations bill because we don't appropriate that agency. That agency is entirely fee-funded."
It's obviously an important detail: Congress can't deny funds to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services if Congress already provides no funding to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Right-wing lawmakers weren't satisfied with the answer -- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told reporters, "I don't believe that" -- but let's not forget that this is an instance in which Republicans are telling other Republicans what the party doesn't want to hear. Rogers, who strongly opposes the White House policy, has no incentive to lie to his party's anti-immigration wing.
So, if "defunding" won't work, "recession" won't work, impeachment won't work, and a shutdown isn't realistic, are Republicans out of options? Not just yet.
Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) deeply strange, eight-year congressional career will come to an end in January, but before she departs Capitol Hill, the right-wing Minnesotan has some more people to offend. Robert Costa reported yesterday:
In a sign of the difficulties GOP leaders face in keeping their unruly caucus on-message, retiring tea party firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said Wednesday that the immigrants given new protections by the president could become "illiterate" Democratic voters.
"The social cost will be profound on the U.S. taxpayer -- millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can't speak the English language," Bachmann told reporters at the Capitol. "Even though the president says they won't be able to vote, we all know that many, in all likelihood, will vote."
Bachmann went on to suggest non-citizens vote all the time -- she has no proof, but she added it's something "we all know" about -- which presumably is part of some dastardly plan from President Obama.
When Costa asked why she thinks undocumented immigrants are "illiterate," Bachmann said she was told as much during a trip to the U.S./Mexico border. "That's what they told me," the congresswoman said. "Those are not Michele Bachmann's words, those words came from Hispanics who live on the border."
Bachmann added that she may have referred to undocumented immigrants as "illiterate," but that's not "a pejorative term against people who are non-American citizens."
As it turns out, she'll be able to learn even more fascinating insights "from Hispanics who live on the border" tomorrow.
Republicans had a great year in elections nearly everywhere, but they had an especially impressive cycle in Nevada. The incumbent GOP governor won in a landslide; Republicans took down a Democratic congressman who was not thought to be vulnerable; and the party took control of Nevada's state legislature.
As a result of the Republican gains in Nevada, the state Assembly will have a new Speaker when lawmakers return to work next year. The new GOP majority was initially expected to elevate the current Assembly Republican leader, but instead the party chose Speaker-designate Ira Hansen (R).
And as it turns out, Hansen carries a lengthy paper trail behind him. The News Reviewreports today:
No Nevada official has ever given the public a more detailed blueprint to his thinking than Hansen. For many years, starting on May 11, 1994, he wrote a column for the Sparks Tribune. The Tribune did not go online until relatively recently, so access to and knowledge of most of the Hansen columns has not been easy. We reviewed every column on microfilm for this piece, covering a period of 13 years, plus a few that did make it onto the Trib website. In these columns, his viewpoint evolved very little. In fact, some columns ran unchanged time and again as the years passed.
Hansen, a Republican who opposed both Bob Dole's and Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns for being "too liberal," has a record that's so over the top, it wouldn't be too surprising if the findings cause Nevada lawmakers to reconsider their decision.
Once President Obama formally unveils his executive actions on immigration policy, congressional Republicans will have a menu of options to choose from. The list includes everything from a government shutdown to impeachment to literally nothing, with plenty of narrower choices in between.
But the one option that never seems to come up in the public conversation also happens to be the easiest, most effective, and most straightforward solution. As Sahil Kapur reported, a Republican senator touched on this yesterday.
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said Wednesday that Congress should not risk a government shutdown to stop President Barack Obama's executive actions, and should instead respond by passing immigration reform.
"I hope we respond with legislation," he told a few reporters just off the Senate floor. "I hope we pass legislation."
Immigration reform legislation? "Yes. That's what we should have done before," said Flake, who co-wrote and voted for the Senate-passed immigration reform bill in 2013, which was nixed by House Republicans.
I think that's right, though I'd add one additional detail: it's actually not too late. It's been over 500 days since the Senate approved a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform plan, and if the GOP-led House brought it to the floor this afternoon, it'd probably pass. The White House would have to cancel the president's speech -- it'd no longer be necessary.
It's a reminder to those who see Obama governing on immigration as some kind of crisis: Republicans really have no one to blame but themselves.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
* It appears the 2016 presidential campaign is, for better or for worse, officially underway. Former Sen. Jim Webb (D) of Virginia has launched a presidential exploratory committee and a campaign website.
* There are still some unresolved U.S. House races, though some of these races are finally being called. Last night, for example, the Associated Press declared Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) the winner in his re-election bid, prevailing by just 1,319 votes.
* On a related note, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) also appears to have prevailed, narrowly defeating former Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.). Though several California Dems were targeted in 2014, none of them lost.
* Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) hasn't announced the details of his 2016 plans, which will get complicated because of Kentucky's election laws. He toldSalon yesterday, "Well, we're definitely running for reelection for the U.S. Senate and we'll actually have an announcement on that probably next week, but we will run for reelection. On the other, there are various possibilities that have been discussed in the media on how to do it."
* It's not yet clear who'll succeed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) as the chair of the Republican Governors Association, but Tennessee's Bill Haslam (R) has emerged as an unlikely frontrunner for the post.
* In Kansas, Sen. Jerry Moran (R) is up for re-election in 2016 and there's already chatter about a potential primary. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R), a constant thorn in House Speaker John Boehner's side, was asked yesterday about his Senate ambitions. "We haven't decided what we're doing yet, so that's a good question," he replied.
* Speaking of possible Republican Senate primaries, Sen. John McCain (R) appears likely to run for a sixth term, though Rep. David Schweikert (R) didn't deny yesterday that he may take on the longtime incumbent.