Immigration hardliners throw down challenge to GOP leaders to oppose Obama executive actions

Economic IndicatorsAssociated Press

In a defiant challenge to GOP leaders, immigration hardliners in Congress announced plans Wednesday to oppose legislation to keep the government running past next week. They said they could not lend their support without specific provisions to stop President Barack Obama's executive actions that grant a reprieve from deportation for millions.

"We aren't with our vote going to give him one dime to execute his illegal action, and we believe the American people are going to stand with us," said Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., at a press conference outside the Capitol where she was joined by other House conservatives and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

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Cruz warned against "having a meaningless show vote" and said: "We should announce we mean what we say, we will use our constitutional authorities to force this president to faithfully execute the laws."

The growing conservative opposition presented a problem for House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders a day after they presented House Republicans with a two-part plan to respond to Obama's move on immigration and keep the government running past Dec. 11, when a current funding measure expires.

The plan involved voting on stand-alone legislation this week aimed at opposing Obama's move. Lawmakers would pass a spending bill next week that funds most government operations for a year but keeps the Department of Homeland Security running only for a few months. Since Homeland Security overseas immigration issues, the approach is meant to maintain leverage over those programs and revisit them next year when Republicans will control both the House and the Senate.

But for the most conservative House members, the approach does not do enough to rein in Obama, who incited GOP wrath with his move last month to grant work permits to some 4 million immigrants living in the country illegally. These conservatives dismiss the stand-alone bill planned for this week as a meaningless gesture, since it would face certain death in the Senate, and are pushing for the spending bill to include language stripping out money to enact Obama's plans.

Party leaders and many more pragmatic Republicans fear such an approach could result in a government shutdown since Obama would be sure to veto any such measure.

Many of the same lawmakers now working to oppose Boehner on immigration helped provoke a government shutdown a year ago in a failed attempt to stop Obama's health care law. Republican leaders have made crystal clear they want to avoid a repeat of that outcome, although the political damage turned out to be short-lived.

Then, as now, Cruz crossed the Capitol to prod House Republicans to defy their leaders and withhold support, and outside groups such as Heritage Action agitated for confrontation.

The conservative opposition may mean that House GOP leaders have to rely on some Democratic votes to approve their funding measure. It's not clear how much Democratic support there would be.