Round One: Post-Election Congressional Showdown on Obama’s A. G. Nominee
Published on November 10th, 2014
By Joe Guzzardi
November 10, 2014
A beleaguered, post-election President Obama has escaped Washington for China to meet with his counterpart President Xi Jinping. Obama last visited China in 2009 when his presidency was nascent and promising. Today, he’s struggling and faces two tough years banging heads with the newly empowered GOP.
Critics have variously described Obama’s mood after the November 4 wipe out as depressed, defiant, and dejected. Nevertheless, he appears determined to carry out his highly unpopular immigration executive order amnesty. Obama: “I’m going to do what I need to do.” Incoming Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner warned Obama that if he proceeds there will be political penalties. A national exit poll found that only 20 percent of voters responded favorably when asked if they support Obama “acting alone on immigration.”
Chances for bipartisan cooperation on immigration broke down before they began. A two-hour Friday luncheon with leaders from both parties quickly dissolved into contentious confrontation culminating with Obama’s put down of Vice President Joe Biden.
The first unintended consequence Obama will face is a stiff challenge to his Attorney General nominee, Loretta Lynch. Late last week, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) issued a joint statement threatening that the Senate will delay confirmation on Lynch until the new Congress convenes. McConnell, promising that Lynch will receive “fair consideration” wants the confirmation process to proceed “in regular order.”
Various Senators including senior Judiciary Committee member Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) have noted that there’s no need to rush Lynch through. Sitting Attorney General Eric Holder is still on the job, and although Lynch has been twice confirmed, five years have passed since her last vetting. More important, Republicans argue that the Senate’s vote on Lynch’s qualifications should be made by the newly-elected Congress and not during a lame-duck session by outgoing Senators.
Lynch will face tough questioning from the Senate about whether she agrees with Obama’s proposed amnesty by decree and whether, in her legal opinion, an administrative decree is constitutional. The legality of such a move has been hotly debated since the president’s 2012 deferred action for childhood arrivals program (DACA) that granted deportation relief to some younger aliens who came to the U.S. with their parents. Obama’s latest anticipated move would greatly expand DACA, give legal status to most of the 12 million aliens residing in the U.S., a disruptive and destructive measure that would glut the already overloaded labor market with more work authorized individuals.
Wrangling about immigration reform overlooks the simple reality that Republicans might be willing to move forward on meaningful discussions if first things could be placed first, namely border security and interior enforcement. But Democrats, led by Obama, want amnesty and work authorization up front and offer only vague promises of enforcement at some unspecified future date.
The shared border with Mexico is wide open. Statistics from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection indicate that nearly 500,000 people were caught crossing the border this year, a much higher figure than in 2013. About 53 percent came from countries other than Mexico including nations that sponsor terrorism.
Americans unmistakably spelled out their immigration wishes in the mid-term election: no amnesty, secure borders, and job protections for people who for decades have lost ground on wages, partially because of legal immigration that admits 90,000 newly work authorized immigrants monthly. Obama’s obligation is to carry out the voters’ mandate. Instead, he’s chosen to defy Americans and in so doing ignore his sworn oath of office.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been nationally syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]