Regrettably, shutdown politics has become the new norm in Washington. Whether EPA regulations, the Affordable Care Act or immigration, the art of the compromise has been almost completely lost. President Barack Obama does what he pleases through regulation and executive action, while Republicans threaten to use the power of the purse to defund the same. The latest attempt to attack President Obama’s immigration actions through the Department of Homeland Security appropriations process demonstrates again how Republicans lack the votes and resolve to effectively leverage their spending authority to change policy.

Even with Republicans controlling the Senate, they do not have enough procedural votes to end debate and move legislation. For years, Democrats fervently complained about obstructionist Republicans preventing legislation from receiving an up or down vote. Now they are perfectly content to play that role themselves. President Obama’s partisan protectors in the Senate have repeatedly refused to end debate on the House-passed Homeland Security funding measure that would effectively gut the president’s executive actions on immigration.

If the Senate cannot pass the House DHS funding measure, President Obama will simply blame Republicans for failing to present him with any DHS funding option at all.

Even if Republicans had the votes in the Senate and President Obama vetoed their DHS funding measure, Republicans also lack the conviction necessary to hold the line on government shutdowns. For whatever criticisms President Obama deserves for his unilateral policy actions, he has immeasurably more resolve than Congress. He has repeatedly dared congressional Republicans to stop him, and they have not been able to even agree on a plan within the party, much less a serious opposition to the president’s activities.

The truth is that House and Senate Republicans in Washington have little desire to see the Department of Homeland Security shut down, especially with terrorist threats running on about every media outlet imaginable. When the president and his allies know Republicans folding like a cheap suit is only a matter of time, the threat of a shutdown is meaningless.

For Republican representatives like Alabama’s Martha Roby, Bradley Byrne and Robert Aderholt, their support of the so-called “Cromnibus” funding measure came with the promise that Republicans would fight the president on immigration early in 2015. Now that Republican leadership seems intent on finding a way to provide President Obama with a “clean” DHS funding bill, the “fight” over President Obama’s immigration actions may be reduced to a single, entirely symbolic, vote on a bill that President Obama will promptly veto with virtually no political consequences.

Perhaps the most central problem for congressional Republicans is their continued efforts to fight the president’s action with inaction. Americans understand we need to reform our immigration system and secure our borders. The president even communicated that he acted on immigration because Congress would not.

Republicans must answer his challenge by producing a better immigration solution that simultaneously blocks him from writing the law himself.  In fact, Republicans need to start coming up with a large number of good ideas that show the nation how they would lead differently than Democrats. If these half-hearted attempts at political chicken are the best Republicans can produce, Americans are not likely to give them that chance.

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