In an attempt to derail President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration, a group of conservative lawmakers is looking to put a clause in the spending bill that would prevent him from acting alone, The Wall Street Journal reported
More than 50 Republicans in the House of Representatives have signed a letter backing the plan, but it threatens to divide the party at a time when the Republican leadership does not want a showdown with the president over the budget. At the same time, no consensus has emerged within the GOP about what course to pursue, particularly in light of post-election pledges to end the gridlock in Washington.
"Everybody had said they want to do something to stop his recklessness. If we have an opportunity to actually do something rather than complain … why shouldn't we?" Arizona GOP Rep. Matt Salmon, who organized the letter, told the Journal.
Congress needs to pass a spending bill before Dec. 11 to keep the government running and avoid a shutdown. The proposed language in the bill would bar funding for any executive action on immigration.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers warned that it wouldn't be reasonable to expect the president to sign the bill with immigration language in it.
"I don't want a shutdown," he told the Journal. "You should not take a hostage that you can't shoot."
But the conservatives say they don't believe there would be a backlash if the issue forced a shutdown, saying the midterm elections demonstrated public support for their stance on the issue.
"They're tired of the president circumventing Congress," Texas GOP Rep. Randy Weber told the Journal. "They've given us, Republicans, both houses" of Congress.
Obama has vowed to act before the end of the year, but the White House has not elaborated on what the executive order will entail or when the announcement will be made.
It is expected that Obama will grant amnesty to some significant portion of illegal immigrants and extend them the opportunity to get work permits. Democrats and immigration rights activists are pushing for the president to extend those rights to as many undocumented migrants as possible.
"The president should use the authority he has to try to make sure the law is enforced fairly and justly — to protect this country and be sensitive to the real-life struggles these families are facing," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat, told the Journal.
The White House is also considering the option of delaying the announcement until after the spending bill is passed to prevent the two issues from being linked.
Many Republicans, meanwhile, believe Congress should take action before the president makes any announcement. A group of GOP senators has written to House Majority Leader Harry Reid demanding the Senate block Obama's plans, and said they would "use all procedural means necessary" to address the matter, the Journal reported.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said this week
that the president was "looking forward" to pressing ahead with executive action on immigration. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn said the president was "defiant" last week
when multiple lawmakers approached him in private asking him to reconsider his plans.
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