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 GohmertThe Memo: Trump veers between hard-liner, dealmaker on shutdown Gohmert to 'Fox & Friends': Extend shutdown for wall 'until hell freezes over' DHS secretary: Mary and Joseph would have been eligible for asylum MORE (R-Texas), Steve StockmanStephen (Steve) Ernest StockmanFormer aide sentenced for helping ex-congressman in fraud scheme Former congressman sentenced to 10 years in prison for campaign finance scheme Rising expectations could change North Korea forever MORE (R-Texas), Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoThe new Democratic Congress has an opportunity to move legislation to help horses On The Money: Trump says he won't declare emergency 'so fast' | Shutdown poised to become longest in history | Congress approves back pay for workers | More federal unions sue over shutdown The 7 Republicans who voted against back pay for furloughed workers MORE (R-Fla.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannYes, condemn Roseanne, but ignoring others is true hypocrisy Bachmann won't run for Franken's Senate seat because she did not hear a 'call from God' Billboard from ‘God’ tells Michele Bachmann not to run for Senate MORE (R-Minn.) —many of whom often have been influenced by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCongress can stop the war on science O'Rourke blogs from road trip: 'Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk' Texas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall MORE (R-Texas).

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

Last week, Cruz ally 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) 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 LandrieuLobbying world Former New Orleans mayor: It's not my 'intention' to run for president Dems grasp for way to stop Trump's Supreme Court pick 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 SessionsBudowsky: Senate must protect Mueller from Barr, President Trump Feinstein grappling with vote on AG nominee Barr Central American women fleeing domestic violence deserve refugee status 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.