Traditionally, Congress has remained quite calm after previous presidents took executive actions on immigration policy. This Congress intends to go in a different, more hair-on-fire direction.
But which direction, exactly? GOP lawmakers can't fully agree amongst themselves, at least not yet, on whether to shut down the government (again), impeach a Democratic president (again), refuse to govern (again), or generally just throw an elaborate partisan tantrum for a while. Some combination therein remains a distinct possibility.
Yesterday, however, Republicans seemed to be warming up to a tactic called "rescission." Long-time readers may recall that the tactic came up
a year ago, but Roll Call reported
on how it would apply this time around.
A new option emerged on Tuesday: passing an omnibus in December and later, after President Barack Obama issues his executive action on immigration, rescinding funding for the specific federal programs being used to implement the order. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., pitched the idea at a closed-door GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning.... Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a senior GOP appropriator, said under the approach being discussed, Congress would enact a 12-bill omnibus in December and later, in the new Congress when both chambers are controlled by Republicans, pass a separate bill that would rescind funding for certain programs.
The details would obviously need to be worked out, but some GOP lawmakers see this as a way to thread a needle. Instead of a shutdown, Republicans would agree to keep the government's lights on, but the legislation would cut spending, retroactively, for the parts of government President Obama would use to implement his immigration policy.
It's hardly a silver bullet -- it's hard to imagine the president signing it into law before Dec. 11 -- but the interesting thing was the reaction from Heritage Action, which helped spearhead the GOP's shutdown drive in 2013.
"Heritage Action welcomes creative thinking from congressional Republicans so long as creativity is not a synonym for inaction or delay. Clearly the promise of a future rescission bill is nothing more than a blank check for Obama's executive amnesty," said Dan Holler, communications director for the conservative group.
As a substantive matter, Heritage's reaction is hard to take seriously -- "executive amnesty" is itself a ridiculous phrase, as is "blank check" in this context -- but the point is one of purity. Heritage seems to want a confrontation, not a solution. Measures intended to placate will be met with swift disapproval.
Republican leaders on the Hill may be looking for a way out of the hole they dug for themselves, but finding a solution that the right considers acceptable will probably be even more difficult than it was the last time the GOP shut down the federal government.
There's a pretty good chance they'll end up shutting down the government before finding the answer. More on this on tonight's show.