Obama’s Amnesty: How They Voted vs. What They Said

Saturday night, the Senate voted on a constitutional point of order raised by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 94%.  Heritage Action’s chief executive officer Michael A. Needham explained the vote this way:

“If Senators are opposed to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, they should vote in favor of Sen. Cruz’s constitutional point of order.  A vote against the point of order is a vote in favor of unchecked presidential power and granting work permits and Social Security numbers to people who are in the country illegally.”

While 22 Republican Senators voted to uphold the constitutional point of order, 20 Republican Senators joined with 54 Democrats in voting against the point of order.  Three Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.

The sharply divided vote came as a surprise.  Though some Republican Senators are pro-amnesty, they have all spoken out against President Obama for overstepping his constitutional authority, including those that voted against the point of order.   Their statements, made just three weeks ago, are below. 

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) 26%:  “Our Founders did not want a king and the American people don’t want a president who acts like one. Our immigration system is broken and our border is a mess. The president should be working with Congress to secure the border and create a system of legal immigration – not disregarding the rule of law and the will of the American people.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) 25%: “While I support fixing our nation’s broken immigration system, the president should honor his own words that unilateral action on immigration reform is ‘not how our democracy functions’ and ‘not how our Constitution is written.‘ By circumventing Congress, the president will only make it more difficult to achieve long-term reforms to secure our border, stop future waves of illegal immigration, and reform our legal immigration system.” (11.19.2014)

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) 54%: “President Obama’s announcement on executive amnesty flies in the face of his promises to follow the law, deliver ‘fairness’ and help jobless Americans. His reckless and unlawful decision makes it even harder for Washington to solve our immigration challenges.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Daniel Coats (R-IN) 52%: “President Obama’s role is to faithfully execute the law, not alter or ignore it as he sees fit. If the president changes existing immigration law via executive order, he will exceed his Constitutional authority and ignore the wishes of the American people. Taking this action would be a disservice to everyone who followed the law to legally immigrate to the United States. I am working with my colleagues to explore all options – legislative and legal – to stop the president’s blatant disregard for our nation’s system of checks and balances.” (11.19.2014)

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) 30%: “There is no justifiable reason for President Obama to act alone now to allow millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the United States…By circumventing the legislative process now, I believe the President is making it much harder to address these problems. The Congress should review its best options and then act responsibly to address the President’s actions and ensure the primacy of the rule of law.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) 16%: “The President has said previously that the best way to address this problem is legislatively and that he does not have the authority to act unilaterally.  His actions are contradicting his previous statements.  …   I am extremely concerned that President Obama’s excessive use of executive orders to circumvent Congress is undermining our constitutional separation of powers doctrine. His unilateral action on such a significant issue is contrary to how our constitutional system is supposed to work.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) 50%: “The president is blatantly ignoring the rule of law and Congress’ constitutional role, and I could not be more disappointed. Congress has to respond, but the response should be prudent and we should not lose sight of the fact that our job over the next two years is to enact policies that will make our nation stronger.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) 47%: “But the answer is not, and it can’t be, a Presidential abuse of power.  So I wish the President wouldn’t do this. It won’t work. It’s unconstitutional. It purports to exercise a power he himself said he does not have, but he seems determined to do it, nonetheless.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) 57%: “By circumventing Congress on immigration and instituting his will through executive actions, President Obama is eroding the very foundation of our country and form of government. This sets a dangerous precedent where future presidents can flout any law they happen to disagree with and alter the law without going through Congress. Each branch of government is to act as a check against the others and not sit idly by as one exercises authority it does not have. A constitutional law professor should know that.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) 67% (and Sen. McCain): Previously, he said executive action “would not conform with my appropriate role as president,” and “that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.” On this, we couldn’t have agreed with President Obama more. (11.22.2014)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 30%: “This is wrong. It’s irresponsible. It will do damage to our efforts to fix a broken immigration system. This is a tremendous presidential overreach.  I will try to defund the effort for him to go it alone. We will challenge him in court.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 33%: “He does not have the authority and the power to do what he is doing. … it’s not constitutional … You don’t solve this problem by mis-using the Constitution.  The President 22 times has said he doesn’t have this kind of authority.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) 55%: “What I don’t agree with is the use of the executive order nor do I agree with the Administration bypassing Congress.”  (11.20.2014)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) 45%: “President Obama declared a series of immigration actions through executive fiat.  He has dictated his own laws — cutting  out the American people and Congress — and then hypocritically declared he wants to debate the issue in good faith.  … Over the last two years, President Obama has repeatedly stated that he does not have the constitutional authority to change immigration laws unilaterally.”  (11.20.2014)

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) 14%: “By driving over Congress and handling this issue the partisan way, the president has dimmed his ability of getting the votes he wanted for a bipartisan solution that includes border security and would allow the whole country to meet this challenge together.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 49%: “As President Obama has previously said, he is not ‘a king’ or ‘the emperor of the United States,’ and he isn’t legally able to unilaterally change immigration law any way he sees fit. Congress has a responsibility to respond and push back on his illegal power-grab. Congress must be creative in using all the tools in our toolbox – including mounting a legal challenge – to oppose the President’s action. (11.20.2014)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 40%: “If the President truly follows through on this attempt to impose his will unilaterally, he will have issued a rebuke to his own stated view of democracy. … The instances of President Obama saying that he does not have the power to do the kinds of things he now plans to do are almost too numerous to list. .. The action he’s proposed would ignore the law.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 35%:  “However, what I cannot support is immigration changes in the form of a Presidential fiat – an action publicly called unlawful by President Obama twenty two separate times.  What’s changed, aside from him being on the other side of an election?”  (11.20.2014)

Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) 59%: “I strongly oppose the President’s latest overreach of his legal authority and his decision to dictate sweeping immigration policy changes without legislation. America’s immigration system is badly broken and cries out for reform, including stronger border security and adequate opportunities for legal immigration. Regrettably, President Obama’s unilateral and legally unauthorized actions will do nothing to fix our broken system, and could encourage even more illegal immigration.” (11.20.2014)

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) 52%: This amnesty order undermines the rule of law and threatens our system of checks and balances. … No president has the authority to act unilaterally in this manner – something that the courts will surely determine. In the coming months, the new Republican Congress will look to use the power of the purse and the judicial system to rein in this executive overreach.” (11.20.2014)

And yes, the roughly dozen Democrats who expressed opposition to Obama’s executive actions voted against the point of order, too.

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