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Republicans Attack Immigrants While Putting America in Danger

02/06/2015 06:01 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2015

The House of Representatives' Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill, which is really a law seeking the mass deportations of undocumented people, including children, died on the Senate floor, victim of arithmetic certainty.

Mathematical reality seems to be a challenge to the GOP House majority. While most Americans have heard about the 60-vote rule in the U.S. Senate that impacts most legislation -- the cloture/filibuster, as it is commonly known -- House Republicans insist in passing bills that cannot make that threshold, and are subsequently dismayed that their legislation dies an ignominious death.

Yet once again, and this would now seem to be par for the course for Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) House, Republicans have passed a bill that, with zero support of Senate Democrats, failed to meet the basic 60-vote threshold -- three times.

It has been clear for some time that Democrats will not support the liquidation of President Obama's executive actions on immigration. Moreover, should such a bill pass by some deus ex machina event, the president would veto it.

So why insist on passing a bill that cannot become law? One must assume that the potency of a quixotic quest to achieve the impossible is irresistible to many members of the Republican caucus in the House. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) seemed to insist that two plus two does not equal four when he told The Hill that "There's not a Plan B, because this is the plan."

In other words, after the mass deportation bill crashed and burned in the Senate, the House has no other plan, no other path forward to fund America's shield from terrorism, Homeland Security.

Showing the triumph of ideology over logic, The Hill further reports that Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said before the Senate vote that: "[M]any of us agree that we should stand behind the one bill that we sent over there. Most of us feel that way. ... Anything less than that, we're not going to get any better result anyway. So why not just go for what's really right?"

Of course, the obvious "better result" would be not to put America's security at risk, and instead pass a clean DHS funding bill that would keep the nation safe. Immigration can always be tackled as a separate issue by the Republican-controlled Congress.

In fact, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) recently told me on my radio show that the House leadership has given immigration-reform Republicans encouragement to develop a set of sweeping immigration reform bills. So at least in the pro-arithmetic wing of the Republican Caucus, there is a reality-based path forward to deal with immigration without the perennial government shutdown threat -- implicit in Scalise's "not a Plan B" comment -- that has become Republicans' go-to tactic for forcing through their agenda when they fail to muster the votes necessary to pass legislation in both chambers.

It would be refreshing to see the big House Republican majority have as much passion for governing as they do for deportation. As Americans look at our society, polling clearly suggests that bread-and-butter issues dominate the agenda of the people. The economy, of course, and education, healthcare and the sense of economic insecurity that hangs like a shadow over most American families are the issues that should be tackled by a giant majority with ambitions to govern for more than two years.

I have yet to see one poll in which Americans rank mass deportations of undocumented immigrants as a top priority. Moreover, it's hard to imagine that Americans favor such deportations over the continued funding and smooth operation of the country's principal anti-terrorist agency, DHS.

Ironically, the party that has claimed the mantle of being the true fighters against a global jihadist threat is willing to drag-race off a political cliff to deport people rather than fund Homeland Security.

This is a choice that has both practical and symbolic resonance. The practical impact is obvious: Even one day, contrary to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart's (R-Fla.) jaunty declaration otherwise, when DHS is not funded is one day too many. Republicans willfully weakening America's national security would be irresponsible, bordering on seditious.

And the political and symbolic effects would also be notable. Will Americans easily forget that Republicans bet with their safety, indeed the safety of the nation, for the unachievable policy goals of deporting millions of people?

Perhaps we're seeing here the inherent weakness of a Republican majority so divided among ideologies and passions that it is literally incapable of governing for the benefit of the nation.

At the very least, we are witness to the fact that even GOP leaders such as Rep. Scalise are a little weak on the universal truths of basic arithmetic.