Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford told PJ Media there are ways to stop President Obama’s executive action on immigration other than defunding, such as blocking Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-8 to send Lynch’s nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. Lynch has defended Obama’s executive order.
The House rejected a measure on Friday that would provide full funding for the Department of Homeland Security for three weeks, a stopgap as negotiations continue.
On Friday, the Senate passed a bill to fund DHS through Sept. 30 without provisions that would block Obama’s executive order.
Lankford was asked if Senate Republicans should have provided funding for implementation of the executive order, which would grant work permits to more than 5 million illegal immigrants.
“No, I don’t, but the issue is not a matter of funding or not funding. Keeping it in context — the goal is to stop that, so there’s multiple ways to do that. The courts are a way to do that, winning public opinion, winning the legislative branch, we just have to keep our eye on the ball and say the goal is to be able to stop the executive action. The goal is not defunding Homeland Security. The goal is stopping an action that we believe is inconsistent with law,” Lankford, who voted against the DHS funding bill, said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Virginia Republican Rep. Dave Brat said he would not vote for an unconstitutional act.
“I pledged I’ll never vote to fund an unconstitutional act so on that part, it’s clear. Now, what’s coming over from the Senate right now is the problem and it’s stripped into two pieces. There’s one that we want to go to conference – that’s the goal,” he said at CPAC.
A separate bill that would stop Obama’s executive order failed on a cloture vote 57-42 in the Senate on Friday. Aside from attempts to defund the executive order, Lankford said the Republican-led Senate could delay Lynch’s nomination.
“We should continue to move forward. For instance, the attorney general nomination – clearly, Loretta Lynch stepped out and said she believes what the president did was legal. The courts disagree. Congress disagrees,” Lankford, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said.
“Blocking Loretta Lynch is one of the ways to be able to do that – holding up the attorney general. Holding up the funding and passing bills like we did today in the Senate and saying, ‘lets stay consistent on this, we’ve got to stop this,’ finding other judicial ways to be able to push. It’s a matter of finding the leverage point and applying pressure.”
Lankford, also a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, disagreed with those who argue that the Republicans are losing the messaging battle on immigration reform.
“I don’t think so. I think we’re actually gaining some traction. I’m not trying to be Pollyanna on it but I think we are gaining traction because a lot of people see what’s happening and what the president is saying and for what it really is, that it doesn’t seem to be consistent with the law,” the freshman senator said.
“You ask more and more people if what the president did was legal and they will tell you no. They may agree or disagree with it, but they think that’s not legal and everybody gets uncomfortable with that,” he added.