Shutting down the Department of Homeland Security will not help Republicans win popular support against Barack Obama's presidential overreach, but could hurt their chances of electing a Republican to the White House in 2016, Karl Rove wrote in The Wall Street Journal
The veteran GOP strategist argued that Republican lawmakers have been right to obstruct Obama's November 2014 executive orders on immigration.
Democrats in the Senate have blocked debate on a House-passed DHS funding bill that would prohibit the department from carrying out Obama's directive. It would take 60 senators to force a vote on the bill — including six Democrats, Rove said.
While some Democrats agree that Obama overstepped his powers with his 2014 immigration order, no Democratic senator will support the bill the House sent to the Senate. That's because it "unwisely" contains riders to prohibit spending on earlier immigration decisions by Obama made in 2011 and 2012, wrote Rove.
The stalemate has also heightened tensions between House and Senate Republicans, he wrote.
In any event, Obama has promised to veto any DHS budget bill that cuts spending for his immigration policies and there are not enough votes to override.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction
Monday that blocks DHS from implementing Obama's policies while a case filed by 26 states challenging the policy is in progress.
This "gives the GOP an opportunity to extract itself" from pushing ahead with the politically unpopular decision to cut off DHS funding, Rove said.
Money for many of the department's non-essential activities runs out Feb. 28 unless Congress passes a DHS appropriation bill.
As Rove sees it, if Republican miscalculate, Obama and the media will blame them for refusing to fund homeland security — notwithstanding increased threats of Islamist terrorism. Some 53 percent of Americans polled said they would hold congressional Republicans liable for any shutdown, according to a CNN survey
Rove recalled that in the wake of the October 2013 Republican-led government shutdown, 61 percent of the electorate held unfavorable attitudes toward the GOP.
"Republicans did well in the 2014 midterms despite the 2013 shutdown, not because of it," wrote Rove.
Republican advocates of a DHS shutdown are wrong to claim that those who disagree with them are in tandem with Obama. The argument is about tactics, not goals, Rove wrote.
Now that the judge's injunction is in place, Republicans should offer a rider that blocks only those funds for carrying out Obama policies involved in the case. That would remove any excuse Senate Democrats — dubious of Obama's 2014 directive but not of his earlier actions — have for not voting to fund DHS, he wrote.
Republicans would be able to drive home the argument that the president overstepped his authority, while bipartisan backing for a funding bill would lend momentum to the legal challenge now underway, Rove concluded.
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