Some Republicans–like Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah–want their new majorities in the House and Senate to make “producing legislation” a top priority.
But others will soon make the impeachment of President Barack Obama their top priority.
Here’s how it will happen.
“We now have the votes and we have the ability to call the agenda, so stop name-calling and let’s actually produce some legislation that helps jobs and the economy and moves our country forward,” Chaffetz said in an interview after Republicans captured the U.S. Senate on November 4, 2014.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz
“I think the country has figured that out, and they’ve given us the mandate to do it, and we better produce, or they’ll kick us out too.”
Obama has vowed to act unilaterally before year’s end to reduce the number of deportations and grant work permits to millions of illegal aliens living in the United States.
After promising to take executive action on immigration by the end of the summer of 2014, Obama delayed his plans until after the elections. Democrats–especially Senators from conservative states–had warned him that such administrative moves could threaten their reelection.
Illegal aliens crossing American borders by the millions
But on November 4, most of those Democrats lost anyway, leaving immigration advocates–and their millions of illegal alien constituents–feeling that the delay was needless.
“What I’m not going to do is just wait,” the president said as immigration legislation that the Senate passed in June 2013 remained stalled in the House.
Kentucky’s U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell–who became Senate Majority Leader in January–warned that this would be an in-your-face affront to the new majority GOP:
“I think the president choosing to do a lot of things unilaterally on immigration would be a big mistake,” McConnell said. “It’s an issue that most of my members want to address legislatively and 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.’ …
“I hope he won’t do that because I do think it poisons the well for the opportunity to address a very important domestic issue.”
To which Obama responded: “I have no doubt that there will be some Republicans who are angered or frustrated by any executive action that I may take.
“Those are folks, I just have to say, who are also deeply opposed to immigration reform in any form and blocked the House from being able to pass a bipartisan bill.”
Republicans could use spending bills to restrict or stop such executive action, by cutting appropriations to those agencies that would be tasked with carrying out Obama’s directives on immigration.
Several Republicans hold the deep-seated view that Obama already has been abusing his constitutional authority.
“Abuse of power” is an impeachable offense under the United States Constitution. So making this assertion would provide Republicans with the weapon they’ve long sought to drive Obama from the White House.
Republicans, in fact, have a tainted history of using impeachment to remove a President who dared to thwart their agenda.
After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, in 1865, Republican President Andrew Johnson tried to carry out Lincoln’s humane policies to reunify the nation after the Civil War.
He issued a series of proclamations directing the former Confederate states to hold conventions and elections to re-form their civil governments. In response, Southern states returned many of their old leaders, and passed Black Codes to deprive freed slaves of many civil liberties.
Congress refused to seat legislators from those states and advanced legislation to overrule the Southern actions. Johnson vetoed their bills, and Congress overrode him, setting a pattern until he left the White House in 1869.
As the conflict grew between the executive and legislative branches of government, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, restricting Johnson in firing Cabinet officials. Johnson then tried to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton–with whom he had an antagonistic relationship.
An enraged Congress impeached Johnson in the House of Representatives. He avoided conviction and removal from office in the Senate–by one vote.
If President Obama tries to end-run Congress on immigration policy, history will likely repeat itself with another round of impeachment hearings.
It was Mitch McConnell who infamously vowed–immediately after Obama’s election in 2008–to make him “a one-term President.”
Moreover, there is actually no reason for Obama to risk his Presidency by granting the privileges of American citizenship to millions of illegal aliens.
Democrats–and especially Obama–had counted on millions of illegal aliens to retain Democratic control of the Senate. But those masses of Hispanic voters never showed up at the polls, thus giving Republicans control of both houses of Congress.
If Obama practiced ruthless “Chicago politics” as charged by his enemies, his response would be: “You [illegal aliens] didn’t live up to your end. Therefore, I have no further responsibility to you.”
Unfortunately for the President, he seems unable to break with his past of backing unpopular causes for little in return.