House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) assured his colleagues on Thursday morning that he will work with them to formulate some kind of a congressional response if President Obama uses his executive authority to revamp the nation's immigration laws.
What that response might look like remains the focus of ongoing debate among Republicans on both sides of the U.S. Capitol. Several dozen conservatives are hoping to include language in an upcoming spending bill to block Obama from granting temporary status to millions of undocumented immigrants. Others are floating the idea of passing a short-term spending bill that would allow Congress to respond once Obama acts, instead of the full-year spending measure currently favored by most top congressional leaders.
During his first closed-door huddle with colleagues since the Nov. 4 midterms, Boehner said he's heard his colleagues' frustrations and recounted last week's contentious White House luncheon with Obama and congressional leaders.
"I told the president last week directly: If you proceed with executive amnesty, not only can you forget about getting immigration reform enacted during your presidency, you can also expect it to jeopardize other issues as well," Boehner told the group, according to an aide in the room. "We don’t know when exactly he’ll do it or how exactly he’ll do it. But if he proceeds, we are going to fight it."
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is in line to chair the Senate Budget Committee next year, said Wednesday that Republicans should use the power of the purse to block Obama's "unlawful amnesty" for undocumented immigrants, starting with a bill to fund the government past Dec. 11.
Sessions said Republican should refuse to approve a plan to fund the government through the end of September and instead pass a short-term measure that would give Congress a better 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 top Republicans, who are eager to pass a full-year funding bill that eliminates any threat of a government shutdown until at least next fall.
Meanwhile, more than 50 House Republicans have signed a letter saying the new spending bill should include language blocking Obama from acting unilaterally on immigration, according to the Wall Street Journal.