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Jan 14

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Commentary: Boehner & McConnell—real “tooth & nails” or just political theater on illegal aliens

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House Speaker John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner

Reversing President Obama’s executive actions on legalizing some illegal resident aliens and recent illegal border entrants is the first priority of the U.S. House of Representatives. This has become a conservative litmus test for both Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Voter anger against these executive actions played a substantial role in putting the Republicans in control of the Senate. Now it’s time for Boehner and, most definitely, McConnell to deliver on the political power voters have given them.

Clearly, the key test on this illegal alien legalization action will be in the Senate where it takes sixty votes to close down debate and bring a bill to the floor for a final vote. Everyone expects the (new) minority Senate Democrats to threaten to filibuster any House bill containing provisions to defund these executive actions. This is where this becomes a key test for McConnell—will he bow to the threat of a filibuster or will he demand that the Democrats actually take to the floor and filibuster. Obviously, the latter is what he should do. Let these Democrats talk endlessly on the Senate floor about why these actions are constitutional while letting Republicans make points of order on why they are not constitutional.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Undoubtedly, Boehner and McConnell talk and define strategies to get contentious legislation, such as this, through the Senate to the president. Surprisingly, Boehner has taken to the House floor to speak forcefully on the need to defund these executive actions. The big question then becomes what has McConnell already told Boehner that he, McConnell, will do when the bill reaches the Senate? Will McConnell stand up to the Democrats or will be just punt the bill back to the House where Boehner would then shrug his shoulders and say “Well, we tried.”

Bottom line: Is Boehner’s fury on the House floor just political theater or real “tooth and nail” leadership setting the stage for how Boehner and McConnell will run the House and Senate this year? Are they taking it to President Obama or are they trying to fool the grassroots Republican voters that put them in power?

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