WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama’s decision to delay taking executive action gives Congress a chance to pass a major bill during the upcoming lame duck session, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid argued Tuesday.
The delay is “another example of why” Congress should have moved forward with comprehensive immigration reform, Reid said. Since punting on executive amnesty, Obama aides have said a new deadline for action is the end of the year, leaving the December lame duck session – so-called because it occurs after the election but before the new Congress convenes – as the main opportunity for an immigration bill.
At least one GOP lawmaker, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), said he would like to address immigration in the lame duck session. “Yes. Absolutely I want it to. As soon as we can bring it up,” Denham said Tuesday.
“The president stated he’s going to do something administratively unless there is legislative action taken,” Reid told reporters. “It appears to me, based on what we have been told and what I see: Republicans still have a chance to do something — they complain, they plead, they stomp, ‘Why should the president do anything administratively. Let’s do it legislatively.’ They’ll have another chance to do it legislatively.”
According to Reid, if Congress does not act Obama should go forward with executive action.
“If they don’t, I hope the president goes real big and does something administratively. I believe he has the authority to do it,” he said.
When asked if there is any chance of bringing legislation targeting president Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the floor, Reid responded. “Well if I have anything to do with it, no, no, no.”
Earlier in the day, a group of Republicans, lead by Sens Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeff Sessions (R-AZ) held a press conference pushing for legislation to prevent President Obama from taking unilateral action to expand amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
“They have every right to do whatever they want legislatively,” Reid said, when asked what would happen if the team lead by Cruz and Sessions insists on attaching legislation aimed at preventing an expansion of amnesty to the continuing resolution. “If they want to be the team of shutting down the government that is what they are going to have to do.”
At a Tuesday press conference Cruz advocated using “any and all means necessary to prevent the president from illegally granting amnesty,” including inserting such language into the continuing resolution.
“That, certainly, I think would be appropriate to include the CR, but I think we should use every tool at our disposal,” he said, adding he will wait to see what is in the continuing resolution before saying he will vote against it without that language.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell deferred to the House when asked about the Cruz effort.
“We’re going to wait and see what the House sends over,” he said. “I think they are going to act this week, and we’ll see what they send over, we’ll take a look at it.”
Jonathan Strong contributed to this report.