House Republicans face their first test of unity as they grapple with how to respond to President Barack Obama's anticipated executive action on immigration, which could come as early as next week.
According to The Washington Post
, the leadership is intent on pursing an approach that would denounce the president's actions but deal with its enactment in the months ahead by making incremental changes to the law.
A lawsuit on executive authority, similar to one that was launched last summer, is also among the options being considered.
Conservative lawmakers, however, have their own plan: to attach an immigration clause in the spending bill
that would prevent the president from acting alone, putting Congress on a crash course with the White House that would likely trigger a government shutdown.
"It's a big test for the leadership. We cannot listen to the loudest, shrillest voices in our party," Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent told the Post. "At some point we have to fund the government, and we should not fight to attach some demand.
"I don't want to stand by and watch as our party gets driven into a ditch," Dent said.
The leadership has made it clear that a shutdown is not an acceptable option.
"Government shutdowns aren't a way to solve problems," Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a Boehner ally, told the Post. "It would only inflame the situation. What I say is, did it stop Obamacare? No, it did not. That's unfortunate, but it's not the weapon we should use."
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also been firm that a shutdown is not among the options to deal with Obama's executive order.
"We'll not be shutting the government down or threatening to default on the national debt," he told reporters, according to the Post.
Republicans are nonetheless ratcheting up their threats that Obama's decision to act will set up an adversarial relationship with Congress so soon after both sides had pledged to move forward constructively following the shakeup from the midterm elections.
"We're going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path," Boehner told reporters Thursday, according to the Post. "This is the wrong way to govern. This is exactly what the American people said on Election Day they didn't want."
The New York Times reported Thursday that Obama may announce his planned action as soon as next week and that the proposal may grant amnesty
to up to 5 million illegal immigrants.
Officials said it could allow many parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents to obtain work documents and stay in the United States.
The Post reported that final decisions about the details of the plan have not been made, but that the administration may also instruct agencies to focus deportations on criminals and repeat immigration offenders. It also would take steps to beef up security along the southern U.S. border and likely expand visa programs for high-skilled workers.
Meanwhile, Democrats and immigration rights supporters are pushing for Obama to extend amnesty to as many migrants as possible. In recent days, they have been rallying behind the president's decision to take action, saying it is not out of step with other presidents who have acted unilaterally on major issues.
"Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and there was much to be said about it at the time. But he led with executive action," Texas Rep. Al Green told the Post.
"When Truman signed the order desegregating the military, there was much being said. But it desegregated the military."
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