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December 09, 2013 5:49 PM Defund Obamacare Or Accept Amnesty!

By Ed Kilgore

Conservative activists are struggling a bit to come up with a united front against an impending budget deal between Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray and her House counterpart Paul Ryan that would apparently split the difference between prior R and D funding level positions. Republicans would get some spending reductions below pre-sequester levels (along with setting on outside limit on unemployment relief), and would avoid another politically dangerous government shutdown, and Democrats would get a formal repudiation of the sequester.

Conservatives want to spoil the deal on general principles—Heritage Action hasn’t freaked yet, but is issuing warning growls—but their own line-in-the-sand has not yet been made clear.

Still, at RedState Daniel Horowitz has come up with a sure-fire motivator to prepare for a scorched-earth campaign against a deal:

The undercurrent of this agreement is the emergence of a dynamic that Republicans want to end all of the budget battles once and for all. That would explain their eagerness for a two-year repeal of the sequester. It also coincides with their decision to push off the debt ceiling indefinitely. Even though the debt ceiling law will be reinstated in February, the Treasury will be able to use “extraordinary measures” to delay the deadline until the summer.
So why is there such a rush to eliminate all of our points of leverage?
Who know? But The Hill has already posited that the end of budget fights will be used to pave the road for an amnesty bill next year. This theory is even more plausible given that Paul Ryan is the lead negotiator on the budget, and in light of recent reports that Boehner will push amnesty (thanks to his new staffer) after the filing deadline for primaries passes.

Whoa! Sign a budget deal, get comprehensive immigration reform!

In a nice polarizing maneuver, Horowitz proposes a strategy that will not only screw up a deal and thus kill off the conspiracy to bring “amnesty” back before next year ends, but will also revive the Right’s favorite cause: defunding Obamacare!

Even if conservatives don’t have the stomach for a full defund fight, the worst thing they can do is enable leadership to permanently obviate their future leverage. Rather than passing a permanent new appropriations bill for the rest of the year, conservatives should demand another clean short-term CR with one condition attached. They should write instructions forcing both houses of Congress to pass each of the 12 appropriations bills separately for the next fiscal year (FY 2015). As we’ve noted before, this will allow us to isolate funding for Obamacare in one or two bills without the rest of government funding getting encumbered in the imbroglio. At least we will have the opportunity to fight Obamacare next September without the specter of a full government shutdown.
Ultimately, the future of the Republican Party will boil down to the following question: Is their desire to pass amnesty stronger than their will to fight Obamacare?

I suspect that line may appear in one form or another in grassroots conservative fundraising and “action” communications in the very near future.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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