WASHINGTON — The intra-GOP recriminations have begun over the party’s failing strategy to stop President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration as the clock ticks to a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security in 17 days.
Stymied by repeated Senate Democratic filibusters, the Republican hardliners are blaming party leaders for not fighting hard enough, while House and Senate GOP leaders point the finger at one another to find a solution to the impasse.
“We’ve had a week on it. We’ve had three cloture votes, all of which have not succeeded. It’s clear we can’t get on the bill. We can’t offer amendments to the bill. I think it’d be pretty safe to say we’re stuck, because of Democratic obstruction on the Senate side,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters Tuesday. “I think it’s clear we can’t go forward in the Senate. And so the next move, obviously, is up to the House.”
Translation: The ball is back in the House’s court.
That’s not sitting well with Speaker John Boehner. The Ohio Republican is standing by the House-passed DHS funding bill and his office responded to McConnell by saying Tuesday there’s “little point” in further House action until there’s movement in the Senate.
“The House has passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and block the President’s unilateral executive action on immigration,” Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said in an email. “Now, the pressure is on Senate Democrats who claim to oppose the President’s action, but are filibustering a bill to stop it. Until there is some signal from those Senate Democrats what would break their filibuster, there’s little point in additional House action.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), whose demands led to the standoff, said it’s only failing because GOP leaders aren’t fighting hard enough. He said he warned from the start that this particular strategy was “designed to lose,” arguing that they should have withheld funding for the entire government and brought nominations to a halt in order to make Obama back down.
“My objections were overruled,” Cruz told reporters Tuesday. “Leadership proceeded nonetheless down this path and now it’s incumbent on leadership to explain what their path is to what they stated the end goal would be.”
Democrats are unified and resolute in their opposition to using the DHS bill to undo any of Obama’s immigration moves, even the centrists who objected to them last year.
“Whenever I expressed those concerns I pivoted and said the way to deal with that is for the House of Representatives to debate immigration reform,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told TPM. “And that’s what I keep saying. We’ll debate immigration reform whenever they want to do it. But let’s get Homeland Security funded first.”