House conservatives want Cruz, Lee to ‘start fighting’ on immigration bills

The Washington Examiner — With the Senate poised to take up a spending bill that defunds President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, a conservative faction of House lawmakers want their counterparts in the Senate to step up their game.

“It’s time for us all to do everything we possibly can do to force the president to do things in a constitutional way,” Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said at a Wednesday forum featuring House conservative lawmakers. “It’s not just the job of the House. One person over there can bottle up the whole place. I’m anxiously awaiting to see how they do it.”

Conservatives said they are looking for Republicans to make a stand the way Sen. Rand Paul did in 2013, when the Kentucky Republican staged a 13-hour filibuster over the Obama administration’s policy of using drone strikes.

“We are looking for that kind of leadership on this issue in the Senate,” Salmon said.

Conservative lawmakers said they are counting on Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, to lead the fight to pass House legislation that would defund executive actions that provide work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. The provision is included in critical legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

The House passed the legislation earlier this month but it may die in the Senate because the GOP majority likely lacks the six Democratic votes needed to stop a filibuster.

Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, said GOP leaders should not abandon the bill simply because they are six votes shy of a filibuster-proof majority.

“It’s high time that Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and others decide to start fighting and using the procedural rules in the senate,” Labrador said. “They also have a responsibility in the Senate to make sure those bills pass.”

Republican leaders have not decided what to do next with the DHS funding bill, but they don’t have much time because a stopgap measure keeping the department operating will run out on Feb. 27.

They are determined to avoid a spending showdown with Democrats and Obama because in the past it has led to disastrous political consequences for the GOP.

But Labrador and other conservatives at Wednesday’s event said Republicans should find a way to push the current spending bill through congress and send it to Obama, despite his veto threat.

“There is no way to avoid what is coming on the 27th,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said. “We had better stand firm.”

The Washington Examiner has requested responses from both Cruz and Lee.