Texas Republican: GOP could sue Obama over immigration action

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said Thursday that Republicans could sue President Obama over his expected executive action on immigration or try to block funding for its programs.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Smith suggested House Republicans would try to limit implementation of the executive order.

"We might try to defund what he does. We'll obviously try a lawsuit. There may be actions we can take otherwise," Smith said.

Smith, who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, warned that the executive action would make it harder to work with Congress generally.

"When he does this, he's just going to frankly poison the barrel and make it awfully hard to work with him on other issues," Smith said. "If he wants to accomplish anything lasting on immigration, then he's going to have to work with Congress and not just issue these executive orders."

At his post-midterm election press conference on Wednesday, President Obama said it was his "profound preference" that Congress enact immigration reform, but he wasn't holding out hope lawmakers would do so in the near term. 

"But what I’m not going to do is just wait," Obama said. "I think it’s fair to say that I have shown a lot of patience and have tried to work on a bipartisan basis as much as possible. And I’m going to keep on doing so. But in the meantime, let’s figure out what we can do lawfully through executive actions to improve the functioning of the existing system."

For his part, Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump backers lack Ryan alternative Ryan has little margin for error in Speaker vote Top Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns MORE (R-Ohio) said Thursday that executive action would eliminate any shred of hope for an immigration overhaul in the next Congress.

"I’ve made clear to the president that if he acts unilaterally on his own outside of his authority, he will poison the well, and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress," Boehner said

Earlier this year, House Republicans voted to authorize a lawsuit to sue President Obama for his use of executive action. Republicans have had difficulty recently finding a lawyer to manage the case, however.