Washington: Outraged Republicans have pounced on President Barack Obama`s planned announcement on immigration reform, warning that unilateral action will trigger fierce reprisals from a Republican-led Congress.
Republican lawmakers on Wednesday threatened lawsuits, paralysis on Obama`s nominations, and potentially debilitating budget battles to prevent the president from implementing elements of a reform plan he will unveil Thursday in the absence of congressional action on immigration.
The already-divisive issue became even more of a lightning rod with Obama`s looming announcement, as Republicans warned that an "amnesty" plan for millions of undocumented workers would only galvanize Obama`s opponents to thwart his every move.
"Under the Constitution, no president can go it alone without consequences," number two Senate Republican John Cornyn told reporters Wednesday, although he cautioned against a government shutdown threat.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte agreed that Obama`s plan "must be stopped."
"My colleagues in both the House and the Senate will take inventory of the tools afforded to Congress by the Constitution, such as the power of the purse and the authority to write legislation, to stop the president`s unconstitutional actions from being implemented," he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
Senator Ted Cruz, one of Obama`s sharpest critics in Congress, laid out a strategy of obstruction that includes blocking Obama nominees for all positions not directly related to national security.
"If he acts by executive diktat, President Obama will not be acting as a president, he will be acting as a monarch," Cruz wrote in a Politico op-ed.
He urged Congress, where both chambers will be in Republican hands from January, to "authorize funding for agencies of government one at a time" in order to isolate -- and defund -- the Department of Homeland Security should it be tasked with carrying out Obama`s plan.
Lawmakers could also attach riders to spending measures aimed at nullifying any executive action that relieves the threat of deportation for many of the nation`s 11 million illegal immigrants.
Congress must strike a federal spending deal by December 11 to keep government running.
Republicans are pushing for a short extension of current spending so they can take control of the budgetary process next year, following their November election victory.
Another tactic they could use is to speed up their process of suing the president, a Republican strategy devised earlier this year.
"The president can be censured. He can be sued by the Congress. There are a whole host of other things," Goodlatte told CNN. Democrats shot back against Republican criticism, saying Obama was merely getting the ball rolling on immigration because Republican lawmakers scuppered the process.
"The president hasn`t even announced his executive order on immigration and Republicans are already hyperventilating," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Pili Tobar.
"Republicans should stop sitting on their hands, do their job and pass a comprehensive immigration bill."
Some Republicans warned against declaring political war on the White House.
"You can`t capitulate, but you need to push back smartly," Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the Republican architects of landmark immigration reform that passed the Senate but died in the House, told reporters.
"If you overreact, then it becomes about us and not about President Obama."
Graham`s remarks recalled the aggressive stance by conservatives in a budget fight that shut down government in October 2013.
Republicans were largely blamed for that debacle, but conservatives say their party`s stunning success at the midterm polls proved they suffered no fallout from the shutdown.