GOP senators want to link spending bill to immigration battles

A pair of conservative Senate Republicans want to use an end-of-the-year spending bill to limit federal funds for "sanctuary cities" and refugee resettlement. 

 
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"As we near a vote on the year-end government funding bill, we believe it is essential that Congress take strong steps to restore the security and financial integrity of our immigration system," the senators said, adding that Congress must "cancel the president's blank refugee check." 
 
Part of a handful of provisions the senators want included in the omnibus is language that would ban grant funds for so-called "sanctuary cities" — state and local governments that don't comply with federal immigration law. 
 
Democrats previously blocked legislation from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that would have limited federal money for the jurisdictions, as well as increased penalties for undocumented immigrants who reenter the country after being deported. 
 
The GOP senators also want to block funds for immigration programs that waive in-person interviews and for issuing visas to countries that won't take back nationals that have been charged with a crime and are being deported from the United States.
 
The senators also want language that would add multiple hurdles to the administration's ability to spend money on refugee benefits or resettlement, including a requirement that Congress passes a resolution specifying the number of refugees to be accepted during a fiscal year and "ending the president's unilateral refugee power." 
 
Sessions previously wrote to members of the Appropriations Committee calling on Congress to block refugee resettlement funding until after Congress had voted on and approved a plan from the president. 
 
With the omnibus expected to be under a tight deadline once it reaches the Senate next week, Sessions suggested this week that he remains undecided on if he'll support a time agreement to speed up votes if the language isn't included.
 
"Well I haven't thought that through," he told reporters Thursday afternoon. "But we definitely — the American people are entitled to have their concerns considered."