U.S. Capitol

Republicans could make their first moves as early as next week.

By Seung Min Kim
1/7/15 8:14 PM EST

House Republicans are ready to fire the opening salvo in the war over President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

House leadership plans to move as early as next week on legislation to override Obama’s actions that could protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportations. That move is likely to be paired with spending for the Department of Homeland Security, which got only short-term funding from an agreement in December.

The GOP strategy — emerging just one day after Republicans officially took over both chambers of Congress — follows through on the party’s promise last year to strike back at Obama on immigration. Republicans chose to defer that fight to early this year, when the GOP would be in complete power.

But Republicans will also have to balance retaliating against Obama for his executive actions — which the GOP views as an unconstitutional overreach — and ensuring that DHS stays open and funded. That delicate balance was made even more clear Wednesday, when a terror attack at a satirical publication in Paris left a dozen people dead.

“If we want to target immigration to retaliate against the president, that’s fine,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). “But we have to make it clear that Homeland Security, at a time when we saw this massive attack in Paris, that we can’t be cutting funding or programs which would protect Americans from a terrorist attack.”

Congressional Republicans are very unlikely to let DHS funding lapse. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stressed to reporters Wednesday: “At the end of the day, we’re going to fund the department.”

Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans are planning to try to choke off money for the executive action next week, with legislation to fund DHS most likely tied to language to limit funding for carrying out Obama’s executive action.

No final strategy decisions have been made, and it’s not clear what language the GOP leadership will ultimately use. But Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) described one possible companion bill on Wednesday: a measure written by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) that would explicitly bar any funds — even those collected by fees — to be used to carry out Obama’s immigration actions.

But other ideas are being batted around.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) has introduced legislation that essentially mirrors Mulvaney’s measure. Fellow Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt finalized a bill — which has attracted more than a dozen GOP sponsors — that would combat Obama’s executive actions on immigration, toughen enforcement on undocumented immigrants and deal with the surge of unaccompanied migrant children who arrived in record numbers at the southern border last summer. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, plans to offer legislation similar to Aderholt’s in the Senate, a Johnson aide said.

To that end, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) huddled with several House Republicans in his office Wednesday to chart out potential strategy on what to do with the DHS funding bill, which is tentatively planned to hit the floor early next week before congressional Republicans leave for their joint retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

No decisions were made at that afternoon meeting, according to lawmakers who attended, and House Republicans are set to meet again Thursday to continue to strategize.

“I think we all agree on the goal,” Mulvaney said. “And the goal is to undo the president’s unconstitutional actions.”

Funding for DHS runs through Feb. 27. That Boehner, McCarthy and House Republicans are acting this early shows that they want plenty of time to calculate strategy before that deadline to bring up the bill.

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