On Monday, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called on the Republican leadership in Congress to "stand up to the radical forces" that might consider a government shutdown if President Barack Obama takes executive action on immigration.
"It’s clear to me that Republican leaders want to work together to keep the government funded. The only question is whether the Republican leaders will be able to stand up to the radical forces within their own party who are intent on holding our government hostage," Reid said on the Senate floor
Some members of the Republican caucus have suggested if Obama moves forward with an executive order providing protection to millions of illegal immigrants, they would move to block a long-term appropriations measure unless it contained language banning funding for initiatives included in any executive order.
A Nov. 13 letter written by Republican Rep. Matt Salmon
of Arizona called on the House Appropriations Committee to include language "to prohibit the use of funds by the administration for the implementation of current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits and green cards outside of the scope prescribed by Congress."
While Reid raised the specter of a government shutdown, Republicans insist it is not a strategy they are pursuing.
"Well, I think the significant part about this is, we still hope to be able to reach out and work with the president on it. We're not pursuing some government shutdown," said Republican Sen.-elect James Lankford of Oklahoma during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
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Lankford added that in 1998, the House voted 417-2 to defund an executive order issued by Bill Clinton "because it took over power from the legislative branch" and funded the government as well.
Aware of the political danger to their party if the 2013 government shutdown is repeated, GOP leaders are seeking out other options that would allow them to record their opposition to an executive action, reports Politico
"I think there is a growing momentum to the idea that Congress would be acting responsibly and modestly if it funds the government but simply bars the president from executing policies that Congress believes shouldn’t be executed by denying funding," Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions told Politico.
Sessions will chair the Senate Budget Committee when the new Republican-led Congress is seated in January, Politico said.
Among the alternatives being weighed are approving a short-term spending bill before funding for the government expires on Dec. 11, and introducing legislation that would strengthen border security and that would demand the administration enforce existing laws.
Despite Republicans insistence that they want to avoid a government shutdown, Democrats see the mere mention of the possibility as an effective political tool.
A recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) press release seized on comments made by a handful of Republican House members supporting impeachment if Obama takes executive action to warn about "Republican overreach."
The DCCC statement
said that "a possible shutdown is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Republican overreach."
Democrats also attempted to use the 2013 government shutdown against Republicans during the election.
In August, Democrats launched a website, titled "Shutdown Broken Promises," featuring statements made last year by GOP lawmakers pledging not to shutter the Federal government, according to the Huffington Post
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