According to the Wall Street Journal, a bloc of Republican lawmakers is seeking to use must-pass spending legislation in the final weeks of the year to place limits on President Barack Obama’s ability to loosen immigration rules.
This could threaten to split the party in Congress.
AZCentral reports that President Obama’s plans to reveal a 10-part immigration reform plan via executive order as early as next week may trump a move by Republicans shut down the government in order to stop him.
However, some Republicans are pushing for Congress to make a move before Mr. Obama does. More than 50 House lawmakers have signed a letter saying that language barring the president from acting alone should be attached to legislation needed to keep the government operating after Dec. 11, when its current funding expires.
Other Republicans, including GOP leaders, are wary of forcing a budget showdown with the president over the issue, saying voters are eager for politicians to work together.
So is a new shutdown looming?
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who is poised to become Senate majority leader in January, has said flatly that there will be no government shutdown like the one in 2013 that was politically harmful to his party.
The result is that barely a week after their broad election victories, party leaders will have to decide whether to override conservatives’ demands in favor of a more pragmatic approach.
At issue is whether some of the 11 million people who are in the U.S. illegally should be allowed to live and work openly, and whether Mr. Obama has the authority to allow that without legislation.
It is unclear why the President wouldn’t have the authority, as executive orders are part of the authority legally provided to every president.
Immigration advocates say there is legal precedent and a humanitarian imperative for Mr. Obama to act.
Republicans say he is in danger of exceeding his authority.
GOP leaders made clear in the days after the election that they wanted to set their own agenda when they control of both chambers next year without any lingering fights about spending for the current fiscal year.
The leaders also want to look for other ways to push back against the president’s moves on immigration, said a senior Senate GOP aide. Over the past year, there has been open and defiant talk of impeachment by members of the Republican party.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) said it would be unrealistic to expect the president would sign a spending bill that included immigration language.
“I don’t want a shutdown,” he said. “You should not take a hostage that you can’t shoot.”
Some Republicans argue that if they cannot move a spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year with the immigration language attached, they should pass a short-term funding measure and revisit the matter early next year.
Mr. Obama’s legal rationale is likely to be that it would be impossible to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants, so those with deep ties to the U.S. should be allowed to live and work openly in the country.