Yesterday, when the Obama administration unveiled a number of proposals that would relax restrictions on foreign workers and their spouses, Chuck Grassley was all verklempt.
“The Obama administration claims it wants immigration reform, but they can’t wait for Congress. They act on their own,” Grassley, a top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor, according to his prepared remarks. “What’s next? Will the president unilaterally legalize the undocumented population because he can’t have his way with Congress?”
Grassley’s feeling that the president is overstepping his powers in revamping immigration policy via executive action is something of a change of heart. Back in June of 2008, when President George W. Bush used an executive order to require federal contractors to participate in the Homeland Security Department’s E-Verify system, Grassley was all for it.
Appearing on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight several days after the announcement in 2008, Grassley voiced his support for Bush’s action, saying, “It’s so important that the president do that,” since Grassley would have put something similar in legislation of his own if the president hadn’t. “It’s quite a victory to get it done by executive,” Grassley said at the time.
Grassley deserves points for ideological consistency on immigration, and his office argues that the situation was different — that there was clear authority in the law for every employer to use E-Verify, including the federal government. “President Obama’s executive orders, on prosecutorial discretion for H-1Bs for example, fall, in Senator Grassley’s opinion, outside the constrictions of existing law,” his spokeswoman, Beth Levine, wrote in an email. “Senator Grassley wishes the president would use his executive authority to benefit American workers, instead of working to their detriment.” Bush, the logic goes, was merely requiring what the law already authorized.
The upshot though, was that Bush took a law Congress established as a voluntary system in 1996 and greatly expanded the program’s reach, affecting at least several hundred thousand workers a year nationwide, according to The New York Times‘ estimates. The real difference then, was that Obama’s proposal uses executive authority to make life a little easier for foreign workers, and Bush was using it to do something Grassley agrees with. It would behoove Grassley to just say so.
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"Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they didn’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and would not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday. A late push to act on health care had threatened the bipartisan deal to keep the government open for one week while lawmakers crafted a longer-term spending deal. Now, members are likely to approve the short-term spending bill when it comes to the floor and keep the government open past midnight on Friday."
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.