House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that House Republicans are exploring legal actions they can take against the president to block his executive actions on immigration, a source in the GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning told CBS News."We are finalizing a plan to authorize litigation on this issue - one we believe gives us the best chance of success," Boehner said, according to the source.
Republicans have been clamoring for ways to block Mr. Obama from taking steps to shield up to 5 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally from deportation. The president said his actions are lawful and consistent with executive authority exercised by his predecessors in the Oval Office, but the GOP has argued that it represents an egregious example of executive overreach. Boehner has pledged to fight the president "tooth and nail" to stop the executive actions from taking effect.
The House voted in December to block the president's executive actions, though the bill went nowhere in the Senate, which was then still under Democratic control. Earlier this month, the House passed a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that included several amendments to undo the executive actions and to eliminate Mr. Obama's 2012 policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants work permits and stays of deportation to certain immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
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It is unlikely those amendments would survive Senate consideration of the bill. Even though the upper chamber is controlled by Republicans, many of them are more moderate than their House counterparts, and several voted for a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013 that would have provided a conditional pathway to citizenship for certain illegal immigrants. It is still unclear how the House and Senate will come to an agreement to fund DHS, which is responsible for not only immigration, but protecting Americans in areas ranging from natural disasters to aviation security.
The House could choose to authorize another lawsuit against the president like the one they filed in November. That suit argued Mr. Obamaoverstepped his authority while implementing the Affordable Care Act. Or the House could join the 26 states that are involved in a lawsuit to block implementation of the president's executive orders. The effort is being led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
"Texas is proud to lead a coalition that now includes a majority of the United States standing up against the President's rogue actions," Paxton said in a statement Monday announcing that Tennessee and Nevada had joined the group of states filing suit. He said they are working to "protect our states from the economic and public safety implications of illegal amnesty."
Democrats were quick to slam Republicans for considering a lawsuit.
"Republicans' radical anti-immigrant legislation is dead on arrival. Once again, House Republicans are crawling to the courts to relieve them of their responsibility to govern," Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement. "Republicans should stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars suing the President, and start showing some seriousness for the security of the American people."