In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Republicans have promised that Congress will act to counter President Barack Obama's sweeping executive actions on immigration and deportations. But the party is divided on what to do, with the conservative flank pushing for confrontation while party leaders urge restraint and take the temperature for a more cautious approach.

"If we handle this poorly it could blow up in our face," said John Feehery, a longtime Republican strategist turned lobbyist who supports immigration reform.

One possibility that has faded quickly is impeachment. Even immigration reform arch-enemy Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has ruled it out. "I don't want to do the 'I word.' Nobody wants to throw the nation into that kind of turmoil," he told CNN on Thursday after Obama's announcement.

The GOP could begin to establish a course of action as early as next week, when Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess, although it might take longer as some aides point out that the newly elected senators will want to have a say once they take office in January.

"There are options like funding restrictions, or just straight-up legislation. But people are looking at all kinds of ideas," one senior Republican aide said.

Here is the TPM breakdown of the possible scenarios, with early and unofficial, back-of-the-envelope probabilities for each one being attempted (none of which precludes other options). Each option contains significant pitfalls for Republicans when it comes to ultimately reversing what they universally decry as a lawless usurpation of legislative power by Obama.

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The divorce of President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had no singular cause, according to an insider close to Hagel, but boiled largely down to Hagel's dissatisfaction with the Obama White House's national security bureaucracy and the reality that Hagel had become the "weak link" in the public view of the president's foreign policy team.

Steve Clemons, The Atlantic editor-at-large and founder of the New America Foundation's America Strategy program who was a high-profile public advocate for Hagel's nomination as defense secretary, told TPM in a phone interview Monday that Hagel's resignation "happened faster than I expected" but he had expected it to come eventually.

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A battle is heating up between two top Republicans over the coveted chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, carrying implications for the ability of the new GOP Congress to govern as well as the emerging clash over immigration.

The turf war pits Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the committee's ranking member, against Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), a longtime committee member who asserts seniority over his Alabama colleague and is now seeking to reclaim it.

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One of the most important elements of a Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential candidacy might be completely out of her hands.

Two of the favored rhetorical questions around her presumed bid are: How much will she distance herself from President Barack Obama? And, relatedly, will she be able to capture the Obama coalition that propelled the President to victory twice, but hasn't shown up in the midterm elections?

They are of course linked: If Obama is unpopular, a Clinton campaign will be tempted to present a sharp contrast. At the same time, the President will likely remain popular with the core Democratic base that she needs to harness. But the record tells us that, however the Obama presidency is faring like in its final months, it's going to influence his aspiring successor's White House ambitions.

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President Barack Obama delivered a message to Republicans who fiercely oppose his long-anticipated executive actions to overhaul immigration enforcement and deportations: pass a bill and I'll undo my changes.

"To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: pass a bill," he said during a prime time address on Thursday night announcing his actions. "I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary."

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Updated: 8:30 PM ET

In a far-reaching move that could help shape his legacy, President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions on Thursday evening to shield some five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and let them temporarily work in the country.

He will expand an existing program to avoid targeting certain young people, and create a new program to relieve undocumented parents of Americans of deportation fears, senior administration officials told reporters in the White House ahead of the prime-time announcement.

"That's the real amnesty – leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character," Obama said. "What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you'll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up."

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There's no official Sen. Ted Cruz presidential team — yet. But the Texas Republican is already surrounding himself with key strategists and advisers that could make his transparent White House ambitions a reality.

The tea party firebrand relies on a small circle of advisers to inform his views and amplify his ultraconservative message. The inner circle breaks down into two groups: his chief advisers in the Senate office, and the chiefs of his nationally-focused political operation, which he beefed up in the summer of 2014 by hiring a crop of seasoned Republican campaign operatives.

These are the key players that could shape Cruz's presidential ambitions.

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