WASHINGTON — House Republicans are moving toward authorizing a potential lawsuit against President Barack Obama on immigration, House Speaker John Boehner announced Tuesday, as the GOP struggled for a way to stop the president's unilateral deportation curbs.
Boehner announced the plans in a closed-door meeting with lawmakers, telling them GOP leaders are finalizing a legal plan with the best chance of blocking Obama's moves, according to a person in the room.
Options include joining a lawsuit already filed by states over the issue, or filing a separate lawsuit. The person in the room spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
The plan emerged with Republicans short on realistic options for stopping Obama's November executive actions, which extended work permits and temporary deportation relief to some 4 million people here illegally.
The House already has passed legislation to overturn the immigration policies, but the Senate looks unlikely to agree to the measures, which were added to must-pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security beyond February.
It's not clear how that issue will be resolved. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote on the House-passed bill, and said Tuesday that the Senate would take up the issue after completing consideration of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which could be as soon as next week.
But nearly all Senate Democrats signed a letter to McConnell Tuesday urging him not to include immigration measures on the Homeland Security spending bill. With Republicans six votes short of the 60 needed to advance most legislation in the Senate, McConnell cannot move the bill without some Democratic support, leaving the way forward unclear. He has promised there will be no government shutdown.
"This is an important fight to have. I think we should do everything we can to persuade at least a half a dozen Democrats that they should join us to get this done," said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. "Sometimes you don't know how these legislative battles go if you don't have them, and we intend to have this one."
The uncertainty has frustrated conservative Republicans who believe Congress' top priority on immigration should be to hold firm against Obama. They united against a separate border security bill that was scheduled to come to a vote on the House floor Wednesday, and GOP leaders delayed action, citing changes to the House schedule caused by the inclement weather. It's not clear when that bill will come back up.
House Republicans already have sued to try to undo Obama's health care law.