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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 GohmertGOP struggles to rein in nativism House Republicans ask Pelosi to reschedule Biden's address to Congress Kinzinger: Republicans who join 'America First' caucus should be stripped of committees MORE (R-Texas), Steve StockmanStephen (Steve) Ernest StockmanPardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office GOP senator on Trump pardons: 'It is legal, it is constitutional, but I think it's a misuse of the power' Nothing becomes Donald Trump's presidency like his leaving it MORE (R-Texas), Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoOcasio-Cortez: 'No consequences' in GOP for violence, racism 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics Why AOC should be next to lead the DNC MORE (R-Fla.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannBoehner says he voted for Trump, didn't push back on election claims because he's retired Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers Boehner finally calls it as he sees it MORE (R-Minn.) —many of whom often have been influenced by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban 'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party Is the antidote to bad speech more speech or more regulation? 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: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Apple approves Parler's return to App Store 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 LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth 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 SessionsGarland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings 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.