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 LeeHillicon Valley: Trump AG pick signals new scrutiny on tech giants | Wireless providers in new privacy storm | SEC brings charges in agency hack | Facebook to invest 0M in local news AG pick Barr wants closer scrutiny of Silicon Valley 'behemoths' Grassroots political participation is under attack in Utah and GOP is fighting back 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 Mason ReidSenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees Harry Reid knocks Ocasio-Cortez's tax proposal: Fast 'radical change' doesn't work Overnight Defense: Trump rejects Graham call to end shutdown | Coast Guard on track to miss Tuesday paychecks | Dems eye Trump, Russia probes | Trump talks with Erdogan after making threat to Turkey's economy 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 CruzGroup aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video Howard Dean looking for a 'younger, newer' Democratic nominee in 2020 Congress can stop the war on science MORE (Texas), Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsPompeo taking meeting about running for Kansas Senate seat: report Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation Budowsky: Warning to Senate Republicans MORE (Kan.), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' Acting AG Whitaker's wife defends him in lengthy email to journalist Watchdog: Thousands more migrant children separated from parents than previously known MORE (Ala.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Louisiana congressman to challenge Dem Gov Kennedy says he won't run for Louisiana governor next year 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.”