Congress could block immigration action via funding, senator warns

Conservative lawmakers could block any executive actions President Obama takes on immigration reform by withholding funds, Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Utah) said late Thursday. 

On Fox News’s “Hannity,” Lee warned the GOP would try and stop the White House if it grants people "amnesty" unilaterally and gives millions of them green cards. 

“That's not lawful. And we'll do everything we can to stop him, including withholding funds from his ability to carry out that project,” Lee said.

If Obama takes executive action on immigration before the end of the year, while Democrats are still in control of the Senate, Lee said he wasn’t sure if Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.) could stop them using parliamentary procedures. 

“You know, some of that remains to be seen. You know, we're at a disadvantage between now and then because, his party does control the Senate between now and then,” Lee said. “I would hope, and frankly, I would expect to see that this would be not a Republican issue versus a Democrat issue but just an American issue.”

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Lee said he’s spoken to some Democrats privately whom, he said, “told me that they do share concerns like these with the president exercising too much power,” for example, with presidential recess appointments. 

“But publicly, for whatever reason, they weren't inclined to express that," he said. "But look, the good news, Sean, is that we do have the power to stop him. We have the power described by James Madison in ‘Federalist 58,’ to withhold funds from the president for his ability to do this."

In a letter to Reid Wednesday, Lee and five other GOP senators — Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (Texas), Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsNo. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Overnight Healthcare: McConnell warns Senate not to block repeal debate | Insurers knock Cruz proposal | WH tries to discredit CBO | Lawmakers propose .1B NIH funding boost Trump: I’ll be ‘very angry’ if Senate doesn’t pass ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (Kan.), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE (Ala.) and David VitterDavid VitterYou're fired! Why it's time to ditch the Fed's community banker seat Overnight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator MORE (La.) — said they support debate on and passage of any measure that would block executive actions on immigration.

At a post-election press conference on Wednesday, Obama reacted to the news that Republicans won the majority in the Senate and said he’s committed to taking executive action before the end of the year if Congress doesn’t act on immigration reform.

Obama had delayed issuing any executive orders to avoid harming election chances for vulnerable Democrats — many of whom lost anyway.

“What I’m not going to do is just wait. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve 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,” Obama said. “But in the meantime, let’s figure out what we can do lawfully through executive actions to improve the functioning of the existing system.”