The question that surrounds congressional action on the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations is not: What would Jesus do?
Jesus famously said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
I don’t think that DHS fits under the God category, although defending America from terrorists who pray to a different God is certainly part of the responsibility for the department.
These days the question is: What would Ted Cruz do?
Now, in some quarters that question might be one and the same.
What is Ted Cruz’s plan to get President Obama to sign legislation that would repeal his own executive order on immigration?
I am glad that the Texas senator voted with the majority leader on cloture. That’s a positive sign. But he has let Mitch McConnell hang out there on his plan without offering one of his own.
Cruz says that he doesn’t want the Department of Homeland Security to close down, but that he does want the Senate leadership to not cave to the president,
So what exactly does he suggest as an alternative?
And if he doesn’t have an alternative, doesn’t he have a responsibility to tell everybody that everything he has said on this subject is either hopelessly naïve or completely cynical?
Cruz is a champion of the tea party. He is beloved by these groups because he tells them what they want to hear.
He tells them he can get rid of the IRS (we can’t).
He tells them he can get the president to repeal Obamacare (he couldn’t).
He tells them that if he were running the Senate, he could make the president, through the power of the purse, buckle and then cave on executive amnesty.
Which, of course, he can’t do, unless he is willing to shut the Department of Homeland Security down, and even then, it won’t happen (see the Obamacare example).
He tells his friends that he can do all kinds of things, none of which he can deliver.
And now he tells them he won’t support Mitch McConnell’s plan to get a vote a partial repeal of the president’s executive order (better known as the Collins plan), but at the same time, he won’t try to stop it.
He says that McConnell plan isn’t good enough, but he won’t propose his own plan that is (a) workable and (b) any better.
Of course, he also condemns the idea that the Department of Homeland Security would close down, saying that he doesn’t support that.
What is his alternative?
Mitch McConnell is trying to put out a fire. Cruz tells us McConnell is putting out the fire all wrong, but won’t offer a better way to put it out, all the while smiling while the fire rages out of control.
That’s not leadership.
I didn’t support fighting this fight on last year’s spending bills and this year’s DHS bill, because I believed that it wouldn’t work.
The only way this really works is through regular order.
You have amendments, you get bipartisan votes on those amendments, and you get a chance to frame those amendments in a way that makes it hard for Democrats to vote no.
You grind it out through committee hearings (many of which are happening as we speak) and you use the legislative process to your advantage.
The other way to do it is challenge it in the courts, which is happening also as we speak.
The one thing you don’t do is close down the Department of Homeland Security, because when you do that, you change the subject and worse, you look like fools.
If Ted Cruz is going be starting fires, he better have a plan to put them out. Right now, they just keep raging.
John Feehery publishes his Feehery Theory blog at http://www.thefeeherytheory.com/.