Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that if a band of Republicans press for language blocking executive actions on immigration, they're inviting a government shutdown.
"If I have anything to do with it? No, no, no," the Nevada Democrat said of allowing a vote on such a proposal, as sought by a group of Senate and House conservatives led on the Senate side by Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions and Mike Lee.
Asked what happens if the senators insist on considering it as part of the continuing resolution debate that's expected next week, Reid pointed to a risk government funding could lapse.
"They have every right to do whatever they want legislatively. If they want to be the lead team of shutting down the government, that's what they're going to have to do," Reid said.
"The House of Representatives has stood up and led," Cruz said at a news conference before Reid spoke. "Let senators go on record whether or not they support amnesty. Senators who support amnesty, or those here illegally, let them look in the eyes of their constituents before election day, and say, 'This is what I support, you let me know if you agree or not.'"
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been using a procedural vote from earlier this year as a proxy to criticize Democrats for not blocking Obama from acting, although the vote the campaign committee is referring to is tied to a rather new parliamentary maneuver. Since last year, Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions of Alabama has made attempts to deconstruct what's known as the "amendment tree" by tabling, and thus killing, amendments within the tree.
The Senate's rules place rather strict limits on the number of amendments and motions that may be pending on the floor at any one time. Using his prerogatives as majority leader, Reid has repeatedly filled the amendment tree to preclude any of his colleagues from offering amendments. That's a practice that has frustrated Republicans to no end, even making an appearance as a point of contention at a town hall meeting last month in New Hampshire.
A successful motion to table Reid's placeholder amendments could create parliamentary space for offering something else, such as a proposal to block the use of funds to implement executive actions on immigration. At the time Sessions made his motion, he said if successful on the parliamentary maneuvering, he would then offer language sponsored by Cruz.
But what Sessions, Cruz and a number of House Republicans sought Tuesday is actual consideration of a proposal barring the use of funds to expand deferred action, which would yield a much more straightforward vote.
"Certainly Sen. Reid is on a dangerous path and he holds all his colleagues together and they refuse to even allow a vote ... Why? Because he wants to protect his members," Sessions said Tuesday, adding that he thought House action before the recess on border and DACA bills "really changed the dynamic of this situation."
Reid said Tuesday that he would "certainly hope" the stopgap spending bill to keep the government operating into December would include funding requested by the administration for border security and the issue of unaccompanied migrant children.
But that's a tough sell for many Republicans.
"The crisis at the southern border was caused by President Barack Obama's executive order. We know that. When you talk to our agencies and officials that are involved in this process, they will tell you that. It is the magnet," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, appearing with Cruz and other Republicans from both chambers. "That executive order that established DACA is the magnet that is drawing people across this border."
The Tennessee Republican spearheaded the House legislation to preclude funds for expanded deferred action.
Reid said that if the House doesn't move an immigration bill, he hopes Obama "goes real big and does something administratively, which I believe he has the authority to do."
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