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Failed Cloture on Jan 20, 2016
This bill is provisionally dead due to a failed vote for cloture on January 20, 2016. Cloture is required to move past a Senate filibuster or the threat of a filibuster and takes a 3/5ths vote. In practice, most bills must pass cloture to move forward in the Senate.
Senator Dean Heller (R-NV): Aye
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV): Nay About this bill
But an 18-foot high, 2,000-mile wall? That’s another story. It just antagonizes your neighbor — and shows your own fear and weakness.
Yet this is what self-described conservatives running for president propose to build to stop migrants from coming across our country’s southern border. Simple, right? Just fence ’em out!
Haven’t we already tried this?
In 2006, Congress mandated the construction of a wall along the 1,954 miles of our border with Mexico. A decade later, guess how many miles have been completed? About 650. It turns out that erecting a monstrous wall isn’t so simple after all.
Tony Webster / Flickr
First, it’s ridiculously expensive — about $10 billion just for the materials to build from the tip of Texas to the Pacific, not counting labor costs and maintenance.
Second, there’s the prickly problem of land acquisition: To erect the first 650 miles of fence, the federal government had to sue hundreds of property owners to take their land. Odd, isn’t it, that right-wing politicos who loudly rail against government overreach now favor using government muscle to grab private property?
Third, it’s impossible to fence the whole border. Hundreds of miles of it lie along the Rio Grande’s flood plain, and more miles cross the steep mountainous terrain of southern Arizona.
Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and the other “just build a wall” simpletons either don’t know what they’re talking about or are deliberately trying to dupe voters.
Before you buy a 2,000-mile wall from them, take a peek at the small part already built. Because of the poor terrain and legal prohibitions, it’s not one long fence, but a fragment here and another there, with miles of gaps. Anyone wanting to cross into the United States can just go to one of the gaps and walk through.
But when they’re just trying to stir up fear of foreigners, what’s honesty have to do with it?
The House of Representative is in chaos. John Boehner announced his intention to step down as Speaker at the end of the month. There doesn’t appear to be anyone to take his place. The leading candidate, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, abruptly withdrew from the race yesterday. Another popular choice, Paul Ryan, says he’s not interested.What happened? How did we get to this point? One document, produced by the House Freedom Caucus, holds all the answers. Framed as a “questionnaire” the document effectively makes it impossible for any candidate to both: (1) Get elected speaker, and (2) Not send the entire country (and maybe the world) over a cliff.
Why the Freedom Caucus has so much power
The House Freedom Caucus, a relatively new group of about 40 Republicans loosely associated with the Tea Party, has an extraordinary amount of power in this process. Any potential speaker needs the support of 218 Republicans on the floor of the House. There are currently 247 Republicans in the House. That’s a large majority but without the Freedom Caucus, no candidate can get to 218.
What the Freedom Caucus says they want
The Freedom Caucus says they are just fighting for arcane rule changes that will enhance “democracy” in the House. On CNN yesterday, David Brat, a prominent member of the Freedom Caucus outlined his criteria for a new speaker. (You may remember Brat for his surprise victory over Eric Cantor, the man many assumed would replace Boehner as speaker.)
Anyone that ensures a fair process for all sides. That’s what we are all looking for, right… We’ve shown principle. We are waiting for leadership candidates to put in writing moves that ensure you have a democratic process within our own conference. That is what everyone is waiting to see. And it’s got to be in writing, ahead of time for that to be credible.
Sounds perfectly reasonable, right?
What the Freedom Caucus actually wants
Yesterday, Politico published the House Freedom Caucus “questionnaire” which it described as pushing for “House rule changes.” The document does do that. But it also does a lot more. It seeks substantive commitments from the next speaker that would effectively send the entire country into a tailspin.
For example, the document seeks a commitment from the next speaker to tie any increase in the debt ceiling to cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is extremely unpopular, even among Republicans. These programs are sacrosanct to most Democratic members of Congress. There is effectively no chance that President Obama or Senate Democrats — both of whom would need to support such legislation — would agree to “structural entitlement reforms” in the next month under these kind of conditions.
The House Freedom Caucus essentially wants to make it impossible for the next speaker to raise the debt ceiling. But that is just the beginning.
The House Freedom Caucus also wants the next speaker to commit to numerous conditions on any agreement to avoid a government shutdown:
The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to not funding the government at all unless President Obama (and Senate Democrats) agree to defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and a host of other priorities. This is essentially the Ted Cruz strategy which prompted at 16-day shutdown in 2013. They’re demanding to have this now be enshrined as the official policy of the Speaker of The House.
The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to oppose any “omnibus” bill that would keep the government running. Rather, funding for each aspect of government could only be approved by separate bills. This would allow the Republicans to attempt to finance certain favored aspects of government (the military), while shuttering ones they view as largely unnecessary (education, health).
Why McCarthy thinks the House might be ungovernable
For McCarthy, the document helps explain why he dropped out of the race. If he doesn’t agree to the demands of the House Freedom Caucus, he cannot secure enough votes to become speaker. But if he does agree to their demands, he will unable to pass legislation that is necessary to avoid disastrous consequences for the country.
Top Republicans are calling Paul Ryan and begging him to be speaker. But thus far, he hasn’t agreed to run. None of the candidates currently running appear to have substantial support.
The agenda of the House Freedom Caucus makes a difficult job effectively impossible. Agreeing to their demands means presiding over a period of unprecedented dysfunction in the United States.
Even if a candidate was able to become speaker without formally agreeing to the Freedom Caucus’ most extreme requirements, one would still have to deal with the group — and a larger group of House Republicans sympathetic to them — in order to get anything done.
This is why Boehner wanted out and why no one really wants to take his place.
Thanks to the courage of thousands of youth activists in the immigration reform movement, last fall President Obama finally took executive actions that protected five million immigrants and their families from the pain of deportation. CREDO members were proud to support these actions with their activism and contributions to United We Dream.
But this victory is now at risk. Right-wing extremists have pressured Republicans in 26 states, including Attorney General Adam Laxalt, into pursuing politically motivated, anti-immigrant lawsuits to block the Obama administration from implementing executive actions meant to provide relief for millions of immigrants and their families.
Once again, families of millions of immigrants are facing the risk of being pulled apart. And it’s all because a group of right-wing Republican state officials led by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are pursuing a craven, politically-motivated legal strategy just to pander to their racist and anti-immigrant conservative base. We have to fight back now.
President Obama’s executive actions, commonly known as expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), could provide widespread relief to nearly 5 million children, young adults, and their parents under constant fear of deportation (More Info). DAPA would defer deportation and grant temporary work permits for millions of undocumented immigrants while changes to DACA would expand exemptions from deportation to 330,000 more children and young adults (More Info).
Even though the president’s executive order on immigration was not all that we asked for, it was a historic move that would protect families of millions of aspiring Americans from being ripped apart due to our broken immigration system.
We know the right-wing majority in the House has never had any intention of passing meaningful immigration reform. And since the Republicans are now in charge of the Senate, there’s no chance that Congress will fix our broken immigration system any time soon.
Without a permanent solution in place, these actions by the Obama administration will provide the immediate relief that so many immigrant families need to keep their families together.
But extreme right-wing ideologues are pursuing a politically craven and heartless strategy – arguably amounting to an abuse of our legal system – that will potentially result in undocumented parents being ripped away from their children and deported (More Info).