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President Obama is vowing to act alone on immigration after his party took a beating from Republicans in the midterm elections. The GOP isn't happy about this, and party members say they're going to do something to stop it.

Here are a few ways that Republicans in Congress could try to strike back against Obama if he takes unilateral action to offer deportation relief to undocumented immigrants.

Block confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch

Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch (C) speaks after U.S. President Barack Obama (R) introduced here as his nominee to replace Eric Holder (L) during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House November 8, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)


Top Republicans in the Senate have said that Lynch's confirmation should take place next year, when the GOP will take over the majority. That would give Republicans a better chance to block the appointment, if they choose.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) already seem to be preparing for that scenario. They said in a statement Saturday that Lynch should explain her thoughts on the legality of an executive action to change immigration policy.

It's not clear whether the Senate will vote on Lynch next year or during the lame-duck session, when it will be easier for Democrats to confirm her.


The number of Republicans who would attempt to block Lynch over immigration is also uncertain. Cruz and Lee are both staunch opponents of Obama's immigration policy, and so far they've been joined by like-minded allies such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

Three additional GOP senators signed onto a letter with Cruz, Lee, and Sessions saying they will use "all procedural means necessary" to fight Obama's executive action.

Deny funding


A crowd gathers at the World War Two Memorial to support a rally centered around reopening national memorials closed by the government shutdown, supported by military veterans, Tea Party activists and Republicans, on October 13, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Republicans in Congress can't stop Obama from taking executive action, but they could try to cut off funding for policy changes.

"We'll do everything we can to stop him, including withholding funds from his ability to carry out that project,” Lee said on Fox News last week.


Lee didn't delve into detail about how they would defund the immigration measures. One avenue could be an omnibus spending bill to fund the government through next September.

Mitch McConnell, the likely new Senate leader, has vowed there will be no government shutdowns on his watch, so it remains to be seen how far Republicans would carry out a fight over funding.

Another important note: any deportation relief program is likely to be funded by fees. The agency that will likely handle applications, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is almost entirely fee-funded, so even a government shutdown on par with what we saw last year wouldn't slow down their operations.


Obama could also wait until after the funding bill is passed to act on immigration, depriving Senate Republicans of an opportunity to demand that no money is spent on identification, work permits, or other benefits.

Sue President Obama


House Speaker Boehner John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to the media during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, November 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

House Republicans are already attempting to sue President Obama over his health-care law, and they could expand the suit to cover immigration if Obama does implement policy changes on his own.

But the suit has struggled to get off the ground as multiple law firms have stopped working on it.


Pass an immigration bill

Immigration reform activists listen during a news conference at the east front of the U.S. Capitol March 11, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)


President Obama has said that any immigration order he makes would go away if Congress passes a reform bill.

"The best way if folks are serious about getting immigration reform done is going ahead and passing a bill and getting it to my desk," he said in his post-election press conference. "And then the executive actions that I take go away. They’re superseded by the law that has passed."

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said Monday that there "probably will" be action around immigration in the next Congress. But Obama has said he won't wait until next year. The House failed to vote on an immigration bill after the Senate passed one in 2013.


Whatever Republicans do, conservative supporters of immigration reform are warning them not to overreach, lest they exacerbate their problems with Latino voters heading into the 2016 elections.

Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush administration official, told the Associated Press that he fears the GOP's reaction to Obama's actions "is going to be very ugly and not well- thought-out."

Republicans need to come up with an alternative on immigration reform, not just criticize the president, he said.


“Just saying, ‘Let’s repeal this,’ or ‘Let’s not fund it’ — if that’s the only reaction, that’s going to antagonize Hispanics,” Aguilar said.

Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.