The First Fight of the Lame Duck

by Eliana Johnson

The lame duck session hasn’t yet convened, but its first major battle — over how best to thwart the executive action on immigration the president is expected to issue in the coming months — is already underway. Conservatives are pushing to include a measure attempting to deny the government the funds it needs to administer the amnesty in a must-pass spending bill, the so-called continuing resolution. That would include the funds to issue green cards and work permits.

National Review Online obtained a copy of a letter that Arizona congressman Matt Salmon is circulating to his colleagues to generate support for such a move. It is addressed to representatives Hal Rogers and Nita Lowey, who lead the House Appropriations Committee

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey,

As the House continues to deliberate and draft appropriations legislation before the current continuing resolution expires on December 12, 2014, we write to encourage you to include language that would prohibit funding for the President’s reported intentions to create work permits and green cards for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.

There are currently millions of undocumented immigrants living within our borders. Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a procurement request for 34 million work permits and green cards over the next five years.  President Obama has spoken publicly and privately about his intentions to use executive action to create these work permits for those who are here illegally. This would be in direct violation of U.S. law. As you know, the Congress has the power of the purse and should use it as a tool to prevent the President from implementing policies that are contrary to our laws and the desire of the American people.

We respectfully request that as you work to finalize the year-end funding legislation that language be included in all relevant appropriations legislation for FY 2015 to prohibit the use of funds by the administration for the implementation of current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits and green cards outside of the scope prescribed by Congress. We thank you for your efforts with this legislation and for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

Matt Salmon

Member of Congress

Senator Harry Reid is sure to oppose a continuing resolution with this restriction, and even if it got past the Senate, President Obama would almost certainly veto it. That raises the specter of a government shutdown, the prospect of which is not going over well with House leadership. According to a leadership aide, leaders will consult with members about how best to respond to an executive amnesty “in a way that keeps the government open.” One of the options cited by the aide is including the forthcoming amnesty in the lawsuit that House speaker John Boehner is filing against President Obama for taking unilateral actions that he considers executive overreach.

Some Republicans are already strategizing about how to avoid the blame for a shutdown: One Senate aide says a preemptive move to prevent an amnesty or a move in the immediate wake of one will put the onus on the president. Others think there’s no way for Republicans to avoid looking like obstructionists.

Salmon, according to an aide, plans to send his letter to Rogers and Lowey on Monday. (He is currently out of the country on a congressional delegation.) Though the Salmon aide says the congressman is more concerned with “discouraging the president” from issuing an amnesty than with persuading GOP leaders, that may be the battle he and the other signatories of the letter must win first.

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