President Obama laid it out clearly for Republicans on Sunday’s edition of CBS’ Face the Nation. He’s going forward with an executive order on immigration, which, of course, is something over which Congressional Republicans go ballistic. They think executive orders from the President—particularly on something as major as immigration—violate the Constitution and usurp their rightful power to make laws. It’s not, and Obama pointed out what should be patently obvious to anybody paying attention.
Nobody’s stopping Congress from passing bills. His executive orders don’t stop that. In fact, any bill that Congress does pass for anything on which he’s issued an executive order supersedes that order if he signs it into law. And Obama flat-out said, according to The Huffington Post:
“‘I’m going to do what I can do through executive action,’ Obama said on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’ ‘It’s not going to be everything that needs to get done. And it will take time to put that in place.’
‘And in the interim, the minute they pass a bill that addresses the problems of immigration reform, I will sign it and it supersedes whatever actions I take.'”
Here’s the thing: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said that, if Obama issues an executive order on immigration, then there will be no chance for Congress to enact immigration reform. A different HuffPo article quotes Boehner as saying:
“I’ve made clear to the president that if he acts unilaterally on his own, outside of his authority, he will poison the well and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress.”
That’s a temper tantrum, and nothing more. Basically, what Boehner’s saying is that if Obama does something they don’t want him to do, then they’ll take their ball and go home like the spoiled 5-year olds they’ve been acting like since 2010. Executive orders may have the weight of law, and some may be controversial as to whether they’re legal, but they don’t prevent Congress from passing bills. The President can’t do that. Heck, Congressional Republicans could even write something into the bill that nullifies Obama’s orders if they want, just to be sure. Instead, they’ll scream, cry, and stomp home.
Boehner also wouldn’t commit to saying that Congress will do anything about immigration reform, though he did say it’s about time for Congress to work on it. He also said that the reason they haven’t acted is because of the flood of children coming from Central America. But at the same time, Republicans have also decried Obama’s so-called “open borders” that allowed them to come in to begin with.
One would think that would be the perfect time to work on, and enact, immigration reform. But no, they didn’t. Boehner has an excuse for everything, including why he didn’t work on the problem 18 months before the border crisis erupted.
Let’s also not forget that Boehner actually encouraged Obama to use executive orders to fix the border crisis before Congress went into recess in August. ThinkProgress reported back then that Boehner said there were a number of steps the President could take on his own to address the border situation, without Congressional authority (and one day after they threatened to sue Obama for his executive orders). So it appears they’re fine with him taking executive action, but if, and only if, he plays by their rules. If he does anything they don’t like, suddenly his actions are tyrannical and illegal.
Since Congress won’t deal with immigration, then Obama feels he has to. But there’s no reason for Congress to not work on it even after Obama issues executive orders. That’s nothing but the most childish form of politics.
Featured image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons