Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is in line to chair the Senate Budget Committee, said Wednesday that Republicans should use their constitutional power of the purse to block President Obama's "unlawful amnesty" for undocumented immigrants, starting with a bill to fund the government past Dec. 11.
While Republicans lack the votes now to bar Obama from halting deportations and effectively legalizing millions of immigrants, Sessions said, that will change when the GOP takes control of the Senate in January. So, he said, the party should refuse to approve a plan to fund the government through next September and insist instead on a short-term bill that would give them another shot at cutting spending for immigration programs early next year.
Senate Democrats "shouldn't be entitled to bind the country next year when we've got a new Congress," Sessions said, adding that a short-term government funding bill "would be smart for a lot of reasons."
That view puts Sessions at odds with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans leaders, who are eager to pass a full-year funding bill that eliminates any threat of a government shutdown until at least next fall.
Sessions said there are many Republicans who agree that Congress should take action if Obama makes good on his threat to use the unilateral power of the presidency to stop deportations by executive order. Asked if he would filibuster a full-year government funding bill, Sessions said, "I think it should be pursued."
"The president wants to create a massive system to provide millions of people, apparently, with lawful status, lawful ID cards, take law enforcement officers from their duties to enforce the law and have them process this legal status, which Congress has explicitly rejected," Sessions said. "And if Congress disapproves of the president providing ID cards and all that for people who’ve been in the country illegally, they should not appropriate the money to fund it."