Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) sided with Senate Democrats Wednesday, pleading with Senate Republicans to abandon their effort to check President Obama's constitutional overreach, and instead rubber stamp his executive amnesty.
"I want to say from the outset," Flake began from the Senate floor, "that I don't think the president did the right thing by taking this unilateral action. I think he's made it more difficult to pass immigration reform in this body. Having said that, to attempt to use a spending bill in order to try to poke a finger in the president's eye is not a good move in my view."
This is the same Jeff Flake who told NBC News after Obama announced his unilateral amnesty that, “I do think that the president moved beyond his authority.”
But if Obama's executive amnesty is "beyond his authority" as president, as Flake admits, doesn't Flake have the obligation to use his power as a U.S. Senator to stop Obama's constitutional overreach? How is using the power of the purse, a power given to Congress by the Constitution as a means to check Executive Branch abuse, just "poking the president's eye"?
Flake then went on to complain that while the Senate was voting on the Department of Homeland Security bill, they could have instead been debating legislation to reform immigration policy.
"I believe that rather than poke the president in the eye," Flake repeated, "we ought to put legislation on his desk and we ought to use this time, we've already used up two weeks trying to attach measures to a funding bill, when we could have used this time to actually move actual immigration legislation."
Flake is half right. The Senate could have used the last two weeks debating all the changes to immigration policy that Flake says have such bipartisan support. But there is no reason those immigration changes could not be attached to the DHS funding bill. All he and his Democratic allies have to do is vote to let debate begin on the DHS funding bill and then Flake and his Democratic allies will be perfectly free to offer all the immigration reform amendments they want.
Flake says he co-sponsored a bill introduced in the House and Senate to improve border security. Great. Let the Senate vote on it.
Flake says we need more guest-worker programs. Great. Let the Senate vote on it.
Flake says illegal immigrants brought to this country when they were children should be given citizenship. Great. Let the Senate vote on it.
If all these immigration reforms are as bipartisan as Flake says they are, then Flake and his Democratic allies should have no problem getting them attached to the DHS funding bill. That is, after all, how our Constitution is designed to work.
How the system is not meant to work, is that a president enacts whatever law he wants and then later asks Congress to rubber stamp it.
"We’ve got three branches of government," Obama said on March 28, 2011. "Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President."
Holding Obama to his own words by defending the Constitution's separation of powers, is not "poking the president in the eye." It is fulfilling an oath of office to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States," an oath that Flake should honor.