Rep. Steve King told Newsmax Wednesday that he will not support any Senate-backed legislation to provide $39.7 billion to the Department of Homeland Security without defunding President Barack Obama's immigration orders — and he doesn't mind shutting down the agency to stop the president's executive overreach.
"I will not vote to fund a lawless, unconstitutional executive edict," the Iowa Republican said. "I will oppose it. I will work against it.
"It’s the only leverage that we have. The people who vote for it are voting to fund what they know is a lawless, unconstitutional act."
In what could shape up as a likely showdown between the two Republican-controlled chambers of Congress, the Senate voted 98-2 to proceed
on a bill to finance the agency without provisions to stop Obama's orders granting deportation relief and work permits to as many as five million illegal immigrants.
The procedural vote to move the legislation to the full Senate came just days before a partial DHS shutdown. It was part of a deal proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to eventually create two bills: one on Homeland Security's funding and another regarding the immigration orders.
The Kentucky Republican Wednesday emerged from a meeting with Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid saying that he hoped the bills could be approved by the Senate and "sent back to the House this week."
Final passage on the bills could come as early as Thursday. The House approved the initial funding bill last month.
Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama voted against Wednesday's procedural action.
"Congress is not obligated to pay for anything it believes is unwise, and it has an absolute duty not to fund anything that is unconstitutional or illegal, which is what we are dealing with here," Sessions said Tuesday on the Senate floor. "So Congress, the House of Representatives, acted wisely and properly in funding Homeland Security and not allowing activities to be carried out that are unlawful and that Congress has rejected."
But in the House, King and other conservatives are pressuring House Speaker John Boehner to remain firm against the Senate's approach.
Boehner declined Wednesday to say whether he would put any revised legislation to a vote.
"I'm waiting for the Senate to act," he said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "The House has done their job."
However, Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, predicted that the House would provide Homeland Security with its funding without ending Obama's amnesty.
"At the end of the day, we have got to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and we've got to do that by the end of business at the end of this week," the California Republican told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. "I think that's exactly what's going to happen."
Obama said later Wednesday that he would veto the stand-alone measure repealing his executive orders.
"They can have that vote," the president told a town hall meeting in Miami hosted by the Spanish-language cable TV network Telemundo. "I will veto that vote."
Without the funding, Homeland Security's partial shutdown could begin at midnight on Friday.
However, at least 85 percent of the agency's workforce — 200,000 out of 230,000 employees — would continue working because they are deemed essential for the protection of human life and property.
These include front-line workers at the Customs and Border Patrol, the Secret Service and the Transportation Security Administration.
King told Newsmax that he wants Boehner to christen any revised bills coming from the Senate as "dead on arrival," added that the Ohio Republican should send over another bill with the amnesty language in it — "and that will put the pressure on all over again."
He dismissed claims by some Republicans that they will be blamed for any DHS shutdown.
"It shows a lack of political will on the part of the people who are voting for it," King said. "I'm hearing Republicans saying that we have to fund this, because if we don't, we're going to get blamed — but we're already getting blamed.
"You just do the right thing. And the right thing is to keep an oath to the Constitution. An oath is an oath. It is not to be compromised."
Republicans were further empowered by a U.S. District Court judge's ruling
in Texas last week temporarily blocking Obama's orders, King said. The administration is appealing the decision.
"It's like having an independent opinion — an unbiased, independent opinion," the congressman told Newsmax. "I care a lot about this Constitution. I know what it means. It's not confusing. It's not that complex.
"The president has no authority to decide that he is simply going to waive the laws and create classes of people who get special rewards. He also doesn't have the authority to create new laws and manufacture them out of thin air."
King, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, also refuted comparisons to a DHS shutdown to the 16-day partial closing of the federal government in October 2013 over defunding Obamacare.
"It's not the whole government," he told Newsmax. "It's the Department of Homeland Security. The essential services are still there. They get paid for their work, they just get delayed pay for their work.
"I don't see that as anywhere near the pressure people faced in the fall of 2013."
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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