With President Barack Obama’s immigration executive order pending, congressional Republicans appear divided over how to respond once he issues it.
Some rank-and-file Republicans in the House of Representatives want to attack Obama’s order by striking or de-funding agencies that would have a role in carrying out Obama’s directive. They have a chance to do that as lawmakers must vote on either a massive – or omnibus – spending bill or a short-term continuing resolution to keep the federal government operating beyond Dec. 11. Failure to do so would result in a government shutdown.
Republican leaders in the House and the Senate would prefer that a year-long omnibus package, which appropriators in both chambers are negotiating, go through unimpeded so that they can begin control of both chambers of Congress next year with a legislative clean slate.
That may prove easier said than done. As word filtered through Capitol Hill that Obama could begin rolling out his executive order plan as early as Thursday, anger increased among some Republicans who consider the president’s pending action provocative and unconstitutional.
‘We ought to announce that we’ll cut any funding to any unconstitutional act going forward,’ said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. ‘I’m going to suggest that we ought to look at censuring the president as Phase Two. That’s personal, more direct and holds him accountable. The third step is to go forward and cut off all funding to implement or enforce any unconstitutional executive decision.’
King added that Obama has ‘killed the omnibus just by his announcement, that’s a done deal, but it would be possible for the House to go forward on some of the appropriations bills that don’t impact some of our border security and enforcement and send that over to the Senate and see what they will do to try to keep this government operating.’
When asked if he thought voters would punish Republicans if the government shut down, King replied ‘You mean like a larger majority in the House or maybe a Republican majority in the Senate? I think voters reward us for keeping our oath of office.’
Republican leaders have repeatedly stated that they have no intention of shutting down the government. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., an ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said a shutdown isn’t the way to go.
‘Shutting down the government is not the right response, CR’s (continuing resolutions) are not the right response,’ Cole said. ‘Make the government work but find ways either through rescission or other legislative actions, or even judicial tools, to confront the president at the point and the issue where you disagree. And, to me, government shutdowns or CRs aren’t the appropriate way to do that.’
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who’ll be the Senate majority leader next year, told reporters Tuesday that ‘our goal is to fund the government.’
‘How long will be determined I think largely by the House majority in consultation with the Senate majority, and to avoid retroactive tax increases,’ McConnell said. ‘I think those are the two important items here going into the end of the year.’