The pusillanimous party 11

Demonstrating how it is only the lesser of two evils, the Republican Party, so recently energized and savvy enough to win big in the elections, is lying back on it’s “go along to get along” couch. Or at least a significant section of it is.

President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration hasn’t even been issued yet, and already congressional Republicans are desperately trying to come up with reasons why they’re powerless to do anything about it.

We quote from the Federalist by Sean Davis (via Watchdog Community):

It would be “impossible to defund President Obama’s executive order through a government spending bill”, House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said Thursday. …

We cannot, literally cannot, defund that agency in an appropriations bill because we don’t appropriate that agency. That agency is entirely-fee funded. As of right now, our understanding is the primary agency responsible for implementing any type of executive order is CIS and we don’t fund CIS. There are no appropriated dollars.

That is absolute nonsense. The notion that Congress can turn on a money spigot but is banned from turning it off is nonsense. And the worst part is that it’s willful nonsense. There is simply no law whatsoever that says that the House is only allowed to X and Y but not Z on an appropriations bill.

Now why would appropriators be so invested in pushing something completely false about the Congressional power of the purse? Easy. They don’t want another defund/shutdown fight. I get that. I understand that a lot of Republicans think the 2013 shutdown seriously hurt the long-term interests of the party. I don’t agree with it, but I understand that concern. But what’s happening right now is that rather than just saying, “We don’t want another defund/shutdown fight,” appropriators are dishonestly pretending that even if they wanted one, it’s impossible. Which is balderdash.

The excuse they’re trying to make is that because the USCIS, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is funded primarily by mandatory, rather than discretionary spending, they have no way to whack it with an annual appropriations bill. …

It’s a clever little argument. Completely wrong, but clever. What these appropriators want you to believe is that “not subject to annual appropriations” and “cannot be changed via an appropriations bill” are synonymous. They’re not. …

The only thing that differentiates mandatory and discretionary spending is how often each must be re-authorized. Every single dollar spent by the federal government must be first appropriated by Congress.

Just because some spending is not subject to annual appropriation doesn’t mean it’s not subject to appropriation at all. Congress can’t block Obama’s executive order by shutting down the government, but it most certainly can defund it by law.

Congress adds riders and prohibitions to appropriations bills all the time. Why? Because it can. That’s kind of the whole purpose of Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution:

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.

And from that power of the purse come the most powerful words in federal law. [Congress can say:] “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no funds shall be appropriated or otherwise made available for ______.”

That’s it. That’s literally all it takes. …

Republicans can add defunding language to any bill whenever they so choose.

The issue is not that they can’t use the power of the purse to block Obama’s lawless power grab. The issue is that they don’t want to. The real shame is that they can’t even be honest about that.

Posted under immigration, United States, US Constitution by Jillian Becker on Friday, November 21, 2014

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