Some Democrats will likely join in a plan to defund President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration, Sen. Mike Lee says, but he isn't speculating whether enough will actually cross the aisle and vote to block the plan.
"There is an instinct of many Democratic senators to want to support the president because he is a member of their political party," the Utah Republican told The Daily Signal
"But there are people all over the country who, regardless of how they feel about the underlying policy, there is a lot of discomfort with what the president has done."
Most Democrats do support the overall plan to defer deportations and grant work permits for up to 5 million immigrants who live illegally in the United States, but believe President Barack Obama should not have acted without Congress, said Lee.
"This is not a clear-cut, down-the-middle split in terms of partisan affiliation," Lee said.
The House is expected to start voting
Wednesday on a Republican plan that would block Obama's executive action on immigration and to cut his administration's Deferred Deportation for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects children brought to the United States illegally.
The Republican plan involved amendments on legislation, worth nearly $40 billion, to finance the Department of Homeland Security through the rest of the budget year. One amendment, if passed, will undo Obama's executive actions on deportation relief for immigrants, while the other stops DACA, enacted by Obama in 2012.
"I am happy that they [House lawmakers] are going after it," Lee told the Signal. "I am happy they are taking a real hard look at what the president is trying to do, and what they can do to serve as a check on what many properly regard as an act of executive overreach.
"I expect Republicans [senators] will follow the same course and some Democrats will be inclined to join with us."
Republicans would most likely try to pass the legislation before Feb. 27, when funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to expire, reports the Signal, but getting the bill through the Senate will likely prove more difficult.
And even though Lee and his fellow conservatives in the Senate say they would welcome the legislation, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that he isn't ruling out the possibility that the House may have to pass a DHS funding bill that doesn't block Obama's executive action, reports Roll Call
"Our goal here is to fund the Department of Homeland Security," Boehner said. "Our second goal is to stop the president’s executive overreach."
The House plan, which is expected to pass, will need to gain 60 votes in the Senate to avoid a Democratic filibuster, a prospect many doubt will happen, reports Roll Call. And even if the bill does pass the Senate, Obama is most likely to veto legislation that cuts his immigration policy plans.
Lee would not comment on which Democrats will likely swing their votes, reports The Daily Signal, but two possibilities are West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, both of whom last year voted with Republicans to bring a vote against DACA.
There are a handful of moderate Democrats
, mostly from rural, red-leaning states, who could provide the swing votes Republicans need this cycle to pass legislation. But it's not clear if they'll vote against Obama's immigration plans.
However, Manchin has said that he doesn't want to support the House's plan, reports Politico
, while other moderates are concerned about using Homeland Security spending to block Obama's actions.
Lee, though, said that the spending legislation may be the only way to stop the immigration policy.
"We don’t want it [DHS funding] to expire, and that’s why we’re working on proposals to keep DHS funded while restricting the funds that the president may spend on furthering his executive action, which we regard as unlawful," he told The Daily Signal.
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