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Effort to block Obama's immigration executive action gains momentum

A strategy recently floated to block President Obama’s expected executive action on immigration is now gaining traction on Capitol Hill.

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More than 50 House Republicans have signed a letter asking the leaders on the House Appropriations Committee to include language in the upcoming spending bill that would preemptively block funding for Obama’s forthcoming executive order, which many believe could involve deferring deportations.

The letter asks for an omnibus spending bill “to prohibit the use of funds by the administration for the implementation of current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits outside of the scope prescribed by Congress.”

Senate Democrats would surely block such a bill and could therefore pose a risk of another government shutdown.

Rep. Matt SalmonMatt SalmonRyan delays committee assignments until 2017 GOP lawmakers praise Trump for Taiwan call Trump eyes House members for Cabinet jobs MORE (R-Ariz.) circulated the letter and sent it Thursday morning to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and ranking member Nita Lowey (R-N.Y.).

On Wednesday evening, Rogers said his panel was making “good progress” on the omnibus spending bill, but wouldn’t say whether he would support including immigration-related language, only calling it “premature” to discuss.

Republicans will likely debate their options at their conference meeting Thursday morning.

After multiple delays, Obama is reportedly "nearing a final decision" on immigration action, which he is expected to take by the end of the year if lawmakers don’t pass a reform measure.

Congress should use “the power of the purse” to prevent Obama from implementing his own policies unilaterally, Salmon’s letter said. Republican strategist Karl Rove raised this idea on Fox News last week.

Other Tea Party and conservative members signed onto the letter, including Reps. Trent FranksTrent FranksGOP braces for Trump’s T infrastructure push Trump backers lack Ryan alternative Speaker Ryan tries new Trump strategy: Ignore him MORE (R-Ariz.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Louie GohmertLouie GohmertGohmert: People will die due to DHS citizenship mistake The Hill's 12:30 Report Texas rep laments not being allowed to cook ribs on his Capitol balcony MORE (R-Texas), Steve StockmanSteve StockmanCruz will skip State of the Union Ethics: Lawmakers didn’t ‘knowingly’ break rules with Azerbaijan gifts Lawmakers deny knowledge of secret funding for 2013 trip MORE (R-Texas), Ted YohoTed YohoA banner year for U.S. leadership on aid effectiveness Ryan has little margin for error in Speaker vote The Trail 2016: Sinister plot MORE (R-Fla.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Michele BachmannMichele BachmannWill Trump back women’s museum? Michele Bachmann on Trump victory: ‘God did this’ The right-wing wants a revolution, and we had better pay attention MORE (R-Minn.) —many of whom often have been influenced by Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzCruz defends Trump's Taiwan call Ark., Texas senators put cheese dip vs. queso to the test Pentagon's suppressed waste report only tip of the inefficient machine MORE (R-Texas).

Cruz declined to comment on the effort, saying, “Call my office.”

Last week, Cruz ally Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeOvernight Healthcare: Medical cures bill finally heads to White House Overnight Energy: Trump taps EPA foe to head agency | Energy reform bill officially dead Senate GOP: National museum should include Clarence Thomas MORE (R-Utah) endorsed the idea.

“We'll do everything we can to stop him, including withholding funds from his ability to carry out that project,” Lee said on Fox News.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who faces Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuFive unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist Trump’s implosion could cost GOP in Louisiana Senate race MORE (D-La.) in a Dec. 6 runoff for her Senate seat, also signed on to the campaign.

On the Senate side Wednesday, lawmakers appeared divided on the options. Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump's cabinet puts US interests first — Europe should learn from that Depleted Dems look to Senate for 2020 nominee Trump's Cabinet: What jobs are left to fill MORE (R-Ala.), one of the most ardent opponents to Obama’s immigration proposals, advocated the passage of a short-term spending bill instead of an omnibus spending bill.

Extending funding into next year would give the new Republican majority a better chance of blocking Obama’s actions.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he still leaned toward the omnibus and didn’t say whether he would support attaching the immigration language.

House Appropriators are expected to unveil the spending bill the week of Dec. 8, leaving Congress only a few days to debate and vote on the legislation before the current spending bill expires on Dec. 11.