President Obama has made it clear that if Congress doesn’t do something about immigration reform by the end of the year, he will. And Obama can make good on that threat because he has the option to use Executive Orders.
So What Exactly Is An Executive Order?
Executive Orders are basically legally binding orders given by a President. They carry the same weight as any law passed by Congress, but they do not need Congressional approval. President Obama is legally allowed to pass an Executive Order, just like all of his predecessors, based on our Constitution. Article II, section 1 of the Constitution gives the President authority to use “Executive Power.” Article II, section 3 goes on to say that the President should “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
The whole reason that the Conservatives are so upset about the President using executive action is because it allows him to make major decisions, and even laws, which potentially could go against the wishes of the Congress. He can do this because he does not need their consent. And in a case like we have now, when the Congress refuses to do its job, the President is left with the option of using Executive Orders.
What Can The Conservatives In Congress Do About It?
Basically at this point if the Congress doesn’t like Obama’s Executive Order they have two choices. The first is that they could write their own bill on immigration. Of course the President always has the option of the Veto if he doesn’t like what they come up with. So ultimately, the Congress would need a 2/3 majority of both the House and Senate to override a veto and thereby stop an Executive Order.
They could also challenge the Executive Order by pursuing Impeachment. But again the Republicans will have little to no luck on this because they simply don’t have the votes.
As the Washington Examiner points out, any attempt to impeach Obama would be doomed to failure:
“Even if House Republicans gathered the 218 votes required to bring articles of impeachment — a far-fetched scenario — conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote, or 67 votes. There are now 45 Republicans in the Senate. In 1999, when the GOP impeached Bill Clinton, Republicans held 55 Senate seats, and got 50 votes to convict the president. So impeachment will not succeed now, any more than it did then.”
Are President Obama’s use of Executive Orders unprecedented?
In a word? NO.
As a matter of fact President Obama has used fewer Executive Orders than any modern POTUS.
Nixon signed 346
Reagan signed 381
Clinton signed 364
Bush signed 291
Obama has only signed 193
President Obama has vowed to aggressively address immigration concerns before the end of the year. As to Republican efforts to block those anticipated actions, they need to pass legislation that denies those concerns. This would likely be political suicide for them, as they will alienate even more minority support, and the President can easily veto it and have his veto upheld.