WASHINGTON — Days after President Barack Obama announced he will not sign any executive actions on immigration until after the election, a group of Republicans called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote that would stop any expansion of the 2012 program that gave legal status to some undocumented immigrants.
The dynamic sets up a potentially familiar one as last year, when a standoff over Sen. Ted Cruz's efforts to defund Obamacare shut down the government for two weeks.
Cruz, the lead sponsor of the legislation, said he wasn't ready to commit to not voting to fund the government. Cruz said he was still waiting to see what the continuing resolution looks like before saying whether he'll support or oppose it.
But Cruz didn't rule anything out.
The bill "certainly I think would be appropriate to include" in a continuing resolution, Cruz said. "I think we should use every tool at our disposal."
Reid said Tuesday the likelihood he would allow a vote on the bill is negligible, and if Republicans insist on including it in a continuing resolution he'd be ready for another long fight.
"If they want to be the lead team of shutting down the government, that's what they're going to have to do," Reid said.
With elections fast approaching and control of the Senate at stake, those at the press conference insisted they weren't pushing for a vote on the bill for political reasons.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee who sponsored companion legislation to Cruz's that passed the House this summer, said the bill was about "protecting our nation" and "stopping the magnet that is causing so many to come to that southern border." She and others pointed to reports of sex trafficking and the brutal treatment that children who try to enter the country are sometimes subjected to.
But Cruz still managed to take a jab where he could.
"Senate Democrats are trying to have their cake and eat it too," Cruz said. "Red-state Democrats got Harry Reid to convince the president to delay this until after the election. But at the same time they don't actually want to vote to stop the amnesty."
Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who supported last year's government shutdown, also seemed hesitant to miss the Sept. 30 deadline.
"The continuing resolution...that's the number one priority," Brooks said.