Immigration reform will be front and center.
The GOP’s victory afterglow had barely faded before the first major post-election battle between the President Barack Obama and the new Republican Congress began to take shape — on the explosive issue of immigration.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), striking an otherwise conciliatory tone, made amply clear that Republicans will fight Obama’s planned moves to ease the threat of deportation for up to millions of migrants who are low on the priority list for removal.
“It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull to say, ‘If you guys don’t do what I want, I’m going to do it on my own,'” McConnell said Wednesday in Louisville, declaring that if Obama follows though, “I think it poisons the well” for legislative action.
The same afternoon, Obama was equally clear he won’t back down on his promise to act on immigration “before the end of the year.” He stressed that the new Republican Congress could supersede his actions by passing immigration reform, which he said he prefers, but vowed not to wait as problems linger.
“I’ve shown a lot of patience,” he said, calling it “a commitment I’ve made.”
Congressional Republicans won’t take that lying down. The issue is a powerful one for the immigration-weary GOP base, which now feels it has a mandate to fight Obama’s plans after Republicans campaigned against them and won.
So let me get this straight: the president wants to do things through executive action that were embraced by the bipartisan bill the Senate passed two years ago but sputtered out in the House because the Republicans didn’t want to hand him a pre-election victory. So they’re threatening a confrontation with the whiff of impeachment?