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 SalmonCOVID-19's class divide creates new political risks Arizona voters like Kyl but few think he'll stick around Former Sen. Jon Kyl to replace McCain in Senate 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 in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power House rebuffs GOP lawmaker's effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol Rep. Dan Meuser tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Texas), Steve StockmanStephen (Steve) Ernest StockmanInmates break windows, set fires in riot at Kansas prison Wife of imprisoned former congressman cites COVID-19 risk in plea to Trump for husband's freedom Consequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears MORE (R-Texas), Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoKat Cammack wins Florida GOP primary in bid for Ted Yoho's seat The Hill's Convention Report: Democrats gear up for Day Two of convention Eyes turn to Ocasio-Cortez as she seeks to boost Biden 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 CruzGrassley says disclosing Trump's tax records without authorization could violate law Supreme Court nominee gives no clues in GOP meeting Barrett to sit with McConnell and other GOP senators in back-to-back meetings MORE (R-Texas).

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

Last week, Cruz ally Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSupreme Court nominee gives no clues in GOP meeting Barrett to sit with McConnell and other GOP senators in back-to-back meetings This week: Senate kicks off Supreme Court fight 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 LandrieuBottom line A 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 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 SessionsRoy Moore sues Alabama over COVID-19 restrictions GOP set to release controversial Biden report Trump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs 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.