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 LeeProminent conservative passes on Utah Senate bid Johnson says he will not support tax-reform bill Moore endorsements disappear from campaign website 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 ReidVirginia was a wave election, but without real change, the tide will turn again Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor 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.”

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 CruzTexas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request Dem rep: Trump disaster aid request is 'how you let America down again' Moore endorsements disappear from campaign website MORE (Texas), Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Senate passes resolution requiring mandatory sexual harassment training Overnight Energy: Perry takes heat for sexual assault comments | Clovis withdraws nomination for USDA post | Battle lines drawn on Arctic refuge drilling | Energy regulator back to full strength MORE (Kan.), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsFederal judge rules Trump defunding sanctuary cities 'unconstitutional on its face' FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Alabama election has GOP racing against the clock MORE (Ala.) and David VitterDavid VitterQuestions loom over Franken ethics probe You'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 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.”