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.
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.
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.
Many of the questions that have been bandied about lately have plainly obvious answers. Why won't Obama compromise? He did compromise, accepting the bipartisan agreement reached in the Senate. Why can't Obama be patient? He was patient, giving House Republicans more than 500 days to get its act together.
Why can't Obama work with lawmakers on a solution? He tried to do exactly that, but Republicans killed immigration reform and the House GOP leadership broke its word about approving legislation this year.
From the president's perspective, the choice comes down to using his executive-branch powers or letting a problem fester indefinitely. His choice then becomes clear. The better question that usually goes unasked is why Republican lawmakers, specifically in the House, created this mess by refusing to keep their promises.
If GOP leaders want to derail executive action on immigration, they don't need impeachment or a shutdown, neither of which would lead to success. They need to do the one thing Republicans have refused to do for four years: govern.