Here’s What House GOP Could Do When Obama Issues His Immigration Order

Republicans mulling special session, appropriations riders, lawsuit.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) speaks about immigration during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. The news conference was held to discuss immigration control issues that are before Congress. 
National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Rachel Roubein
Nov. 16, 2014, 3:13 p.m.

When Pres­id­ent Obama is­sues ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders on im­mig­ra­tion, House Re­pub­lic­ans will be wait­ing with re­per­cus­sions.

They’re ready­ing for a fight as Obama crafts ad­min­is­trat­ive ac­tion that couldre­portedly de­fer the de­port­a­tionof as many as 5 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants. This would likely count as the “big and bold” move Demo­crats are ur­ging Obama to take, but many Re­pub­lic­ans view this as an over­reach of pres­id­en­tial power. It’s an ac­tion that should have con­sequences, they say.

All op­tions are on the table as House Re­pub­lic­ans pre­pare to fight the pres­id­ent “tooth and nail,” House Speak­er John Boehner said in a press con­fer­ence Thursday.

“Here’s the time to get cre­at­ive,” Rep. Matt Sal­mon of Ari­zona said, “and I think that’s what the speak­er said when he said we’re look­ing at all op­tions right now.”

But what ex­actly does “cre­at­ive” mean—and how far will it ex­tend?

If Obama an­nounces his ex­ec­ut­ive or­der next Fri­day at noon, the House could stay in ses­sion for as long as needed rather than be­gin­ning the planned Thanks­giv­ing re­cess. The cham­ber could pass a res­ol­u­tion re­ject­ing the pres­id­ent’s ac­tions. Then House Re­pub­lic­ans would fo­cus on ap­pro­pri­ations.

The cur­rent fund­ing bill is set to sun­set Dec. 11, and law­makers are jock­ey­ing over passing an­oth­er short-term con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion or a longer-term pack­age. The House could at­tach a rider pro­hib­it­ing en­force­ment of Obama’s or­der, or it could not provide money to de­part­ments that would re­spond to ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion.

This strategy aligns with a let­ter that Sal­mon, along with at least 62 co­sign­ers, sent House Ap­pro­pri­ations Chair­man Har­old Ro­gers and rank­ing mem­ber Nita Lowey. It urges them to in­sert lan­guage in­to any spend­ing bill pro­hib­it­ing the use of ap­pro­pri­ated money for ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion that would cre­ate ad­di­tion­al work per­mits or green cards. Es­sen­tially, Con­gress’s power of the purse would be Obama’s pun­ish­ment.

“If we can really tar­get it just to that, it might be the holy grail,” Sal­mon said. But he wanted to make one thing clear: “Nobody’s threat­en­ing a shut­down. Nobody.”

That’s a re­frain Rep. Trey Gowdy, Im­mig­ra­tion and Bor­der Se­cur­ity Sub­com­mit­tee chair­man, echoed. But, first, he ticked off three op­tions Re­pub­lic­ans do have: ap­pro­pri­ations, po­ten­tial lit­ig­a­tion, and ad­vice and con­sent.

Re­pub­lic­ans have already made clear their will­ing­ness to block the up­com­ing at­tor­ney gen­er­al nom­in­a­tion as a con­sequence of ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion. And Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers have said they would con­sider broad­en­ing a planned law­suit against the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­clude the pres­id­ent’s ac­tion on im­mig­ra­tion.

But there’s a new Con­gress con­ven­ing in Janu­ary, and many Re­pub­lic­an mem­bers say that’s when com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion-re­form le­gis­la­tion should be giv­en an­oth­er shot.

“From ‘08 to 2010, [Obama] had the House, the Sen­ate, and the White House,” Gowdy said to sev­er­al re­port­ers on Cap­it­ol Hill on Fri­day, “and he didn’t do a damn thing about im­mig­ra­tion re­form, so if he could take two years to do noth­ing, I would think he could give this new Con­gress maybe three months? Six months?”

Rep. Mario Diaz-Bal­art, a power play­er in the House Re­pub­lic­an im­mig­ra­tion ne­go­ti­ations, said any ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion would throw a “hand gren­ade” in­to deal-mak­ing.

“I think we have an op­por­tun­ity, and I’ve been very clear,” the Flor­ida Re­pub­lic­an told re­port­ers, “there’s no guar­an­tees. Ob­vi­ously, I think we have an op­por­tun­ity to deal with the is­sue that’s ser­i­ous, that’s real, that’s per­man­ent, that is fair to folks who have done things leg­ally, that helps the eco­nomy, that ad­heres to the rule of law.”

COR­REC­TION: The ori­gin­al ver­sion of this art­icle in­cor­rectly at­trib­uted to Rep. Steve Scal­ise a series of quotes spoken by an­oth­er law­maker.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.