August 22, 2011 10:24 am ET - by Matt Gertz
On Thursday, Roll Call reported that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) was planning to use his House Judiciary Committee gavel this fall to promote a "jobs agenda." This would represent a significant shift for a committee that has largely been focused on radical attacks on undocumented immigrants.
But later that day, the Obama administration announced that it would begin reviewing the cases of the 300,000 illegal immigrants currently awaiting deportation and prioritize the expulsion of the more dangerous criminal violators, rather than targeting low-level immigration offenders for deportation.
Smith quickly abandoned his "jobs agenda," telling right-wing radio host Joe Pagliarulo that he was now planning to hold hearings on the subject with the avowed purpose of trying to "embarrass the President." Smith also suggested that the House Appropriations Committee would defund the administration's ability to implement their plan.
During his interview with Pagliarulo, Smith also repeatedly pushed the falsehood that the administration proposal constitutes "amnesty." In fact, while immigrants who are not deported may apply for work permits, the plan does not provide them with citizenship or even a path to citizenship.
SMITH: As to what our recourse is, what we can do, we can do a couple things, at least in the House where the Republicans are in the majority. We can conduct hearings, oversight hearings, we can pull in administration officials, make them testify under oath, find out what's going on, try to, frankly, embarrass the President and push back and get the American people on our side to push back against the administration. Secondly, the Appropriations Committee can defund any of these efforts, but unfortunately, on the appropriations level, you can only defund it one year at a time, so that's not a long-term solution. Frankly, Joe, the long-term solution is, if you don't like what the President is doing, you have an opportunity in a year and a half to change presidents, and that's ultimately where the answer is going to lie.
Smith's call for hearings to "embarrass the president" comes on the heels of Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) comment that his planned Oversight Committee investigation of trumped-up attacks on Obama's adherence to election law would make "good theater." House Republicans apparently prefer to use their committees to conduct partisan attacks, rather than to attempt to solve America's problems.
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