The senators, most from conservative states, objected to Obama's
unilateral approach, saying on Wednesday that they preferred
Congress to take the lead with legislation. Democrats should try
again to work with Republicans in Congress to set reforms in law,
No Democrats went so far as to say they were ready to break with the
president, but several were critical of his go-it-alone approach.
"I wish he wouldn't do it," Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West
Virginia said. "I think we ought to work through this process, and
with the new elections and the results of the elections, we ought to
try in January to see if we can find a pathway to get something
Republicans, who after midterm election gains will take control of
the Senate in January, have uniformly condemned Obama's plan to give
deportation relief to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.
They are considering ways to resist.
Any defections in Obama's own party would make that resistance
bipartisan, further isolating the president and potentially making
it even more difficult to pass other items on his agenda.
If six or seven Democratic votes in the new Senate joined
Republicans, they would have the 60 needed to block the executive
order and force Obama into a politically embarrassing veto.
Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri said she supported
comprehensive immigration reform but was concerned by Obama's plan.
"I have to be honest, how this is coming about makes me
uncomfortable, I think it probably makes most Missourians
The Senate in June 2013 passed a sweeping, bipartisan immigration
bill, but the Republican-led House of Representatives did not take
it up. Obama said the Republican refusal to move on immigration was
forcing his action, to be announced in a televised address on
Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana said he would like to see
Congress try again.
"I would prefer the Congress acted, yes," Tester said. "I think it
would be great to have the House take up the Senate-passed bill ….
That would be a solution to the problem."
Manchin also said he would like to see the House tackle the issue
again, and "if that's not going to happen, then we've got to find
another way to work this."
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday that
Obama's executive action would ruin the chances of Congress acting
[to top of second column]
Senator Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with
Democrats, has been supportive of immigration reform but critical of
unilateral action by Obama. A spokesman for King said the senator
had conveyed his position to the White House earlier this week.
Some Republican conservatives have suggested placing funding
restrictions on Obama's plan in a must-pass government spending
bill, which could lead to a government shutdown that Republican
leaders have vowed to avoid. Other approaches include passing
targeted bills to defund implementation of the order.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicted the
instinct for "political survival" would force some unhappy Democrats
to join Republicans in trying to defund Obama's executive action.
"There will be some Democrats who will join the effort to limit an
overreach of executive authority," Graham said.
"Some will be genuinely upset, a lot of it will be political
survival, like in purple and red states," he said, referring to the
colors commonly used to designate conservative-leaning and swing
Moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said Obama was
making "a huge mistake from both the political and policy
Asked if any Democrats agreed with her, Collins said: "I know for a
fact that they do."
(Writing by John Whitesides; editing by Peter Henderson)
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