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 SalmonMatthew (Matt) James SalmonArizona voters like Kyl but few think he'll stick around Former Sen. Jon Kyl to replace McCain in Senate Arizona governor faces pressure over McCain replacement 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 FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHouse Natural Resources gives Grijalva power to subpoena Interior Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel Sheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade MORE (R-Texas), Steve StockmanStephen (Steve) Ernest StockmanConsequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears Former aide sentenced for helping ex-congressman in fraud scheme Former congressman sentenced to 10 years in prison for campaign finance scheme MORE (R-Texas), Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoPelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei US lawmakers push WHO to recognize Taiwan as independent state as coronavirus outbreak continues Hillicon Valley: Tech confronts impact of coronavirus | House GOP offers resolution to condemn UK over Huawei | YouTube lays out plans to tackle 2020 misinformation MORE (R-Fla.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannEvangelicals shouldn't be defending Trump in tiff over editorial Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations MORE (R-Minn.) —many of whom often have been influenced by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPompeo to speak to influential Iowa GOP group Top National Security Council aide moved to Energy Department role Ted Cruz takes aim at Alabama vasectomy bill: 'Yikes' MORE (R-Texas).

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

Last week, Cruz ally Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers 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 Loretta LandrieuA decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth Congress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ 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 SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Trump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr 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.