Obama, Republicans Face-Off on Immigration

Sunday show roundup: Obama backs immigration action as Republicans differ on best way to fight it

President Barack Obama on ABC's This Week

On Sunday, President Obama defended his decision to take executive action and grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, telling Republicans if they dislike it, they should go ahead and pass legislation to fix the broken-immigration system.

"The truth is that the Senate did a good job in crafting a bipartisan bill that would have greatly improved our immigration system, and my preference is for a legislative solution to this problem. It didn’t happen because the Speaker would not call the bill for a vote in the House. And he still has several weeks to call that bill in the House or he can work with me and Democrats to craft a new bill. And the point is that ultimately, Congress has a responsibility to deal with these issues. And there are some things that I can’t do on my own. What I do have is the legal authority to try to make the system better, given the resource constraints that we have, we have to prioritize," Obama said.

Obama’s comments came during an appearance on ABC’s "This Week," and marked the first lengthy interview since unveiling the plan on Thursday.

Republican said the action was "unconstitutional" and wasted little time vowing to oppose it. How they will do that is unclear, but on Sunday Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) encouraged Senate Republicans to refuse approving any executive or judicial nominations.

"I’ve laid out a detailed systematic plan for what Congress should do," Cruz told Fox News Sunday.

"We should use the constitutional checks and balances we have to rein in the abuse of power in the executive. Step number one that I’ve called for is the incoming Majority Leader should announce that if the president implements this lawless amnesty that the Senate will not confirm any executive or judicial nominees other than vital national security positions for the next two years unless and until the president ends this lawless amnesty."

Cruz advocated for the tactic in an op-ed published in Politicoearlier this week, but the plan is not flawless.

"Are you saying that the Senate should refuse to confirm Loretta Lynch, the president’s new nominee for Attorney General, and thereby leave Eric Holder, who you don’t like very much, in that position even longer?" asked Fox’s Chris Wallace.

Cruz avoided answering the question, and when pressed for an answer maintained, "in my view the majority leader should decline to bring to the floor of the Senate any nomination other than vital national security positions."

"That is a serious and major step. If the Majority Leader announced that, it would impose real consequences on the president and the administration."

Cruz continued, "the second is the power of the purse and we should fund one at a time, the critical priorities of the federal government, but also use the power of the purse to attach riders."

Republicans agree that they disapprove of the president’s action, but they have not reached a consensus on the appropriate response.

"What we should do is a lot of different things," said Rep. Raul Labrador (R., Idaho.) on CBS’s "Face the Nation."

"I think we need to censure the president of the United States. I think it’s unfortunate that he did this. I think we need to layout clearly why this is unlawful. I think we need to pass a funding bill, and separate Homeland Security from that funding bill. And I think we also should require the President of the United States to go through a calming period, just like we have to do for regulations under the Administrative Procedures Act."

House Republicans have already proposed legislation to defund the order and are considering options to defund parts of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice. However, some Republicans say it will not be an effective solution because the agency primarily in charge of implementing the order is funded through fees, not Congressional appropriations.

Republicans, Cruz argued, campaigned on preventing executive immigration actions, like the one President Obama just took, and it’s important they stick to their word.

"All across this country Republican’s campaigned saying if you elect a Republican Senate we will stop President Obama’s illegal amnesty. My very simple suggestion to my colleagues and friends in the Republican Party is we need to honor what we said. We need to do what we said two weeks ago on the campaign trail."

Others cautioned against walking into a situation, like last October’s government shutdown, that could backfire and hurt Republicans.

"I think this is the most important part," Labrador noted, "we can’t take the bait from the Democrats. We can’t say we’re not going to do immigration reform. We need to tell the American people what we’re for, and we need to show them the step-by-step approach that we’ve been doing in the House… we have passed legislation out of the House and the Democrats have refused to work with us on that legislation."