President threatens immigration veto

President Obama would veto any Republican attempts to undermine the executive action he’s unveiling Thursday night in a primetime address, a senior administration official said Thursday.

The official said the White House expects Republicans would “spend a lot of creative energy making up ways to try and stop us either through funding bills” and could “cook up some riders.” But, the official said, that ultimately was “all an irrelevant point” because the president would veto any such effort.

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Republican lawmakers have vowed to find legislative avenues to overturn the president’s executive action, which will extend protection from deportation and work permits to some 5 million immigrants.

“If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle Sanders: 'Not crazy' about nixing the Senate filibuster McCabe: No one in 'Gang of Eight' objected to FBI probe into Trump MORE (R-Ky.) said Thursday. “We’re considering a variety of options. But make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act.”

Some Republicans are pushing to defund the president’s executive actions in an upcoming continuing resolution or omnibus bill. Lawmakers must pass new funding legislation by Dec. 12 or the government will shut down.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said Congress should "cut off all funding to implement or enforce any unconstitutional executive orders."

One complicating factor for Republicans is that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency is self-funded through application fees, rather than congressional appropriations.

“They can’t deny us appropriations, because this isn’t funded by appropriations,” a second administration official said.

“We don’t have to ask them for money to do this, so they can’t deny us the money as a way of stopping us,” the official added.

The first senior administration official also noted that because of this “irony,” the deferred action program would continue even if lawmakers forced a government shutdown over the issue.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) acknowledged the difficult of defunding Obama’s move in a statement Thursday.

“This agency is entirely self-funded through the fees it collects on various immigration applications," the House Appropriations Committee said in a statement. "Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the ‘E-Verify’ program. Therefore, the appropriations process cannot be used to 'defund' the agency."

In the speech Thursday night, the president will announce that the parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have been in the country for at least five years will be eligible for deportation deferral and work permits. He’ll also announce expanded eligibility for deferred action for those brought to the country illegally as children, as well as an expansion of visas for high-tech workers.