Cotton hints at specific GOP spending bill tactic to counter Obama executive action

Arkansas Sen.-elect Tom Cotton hinted on Sunday at exactly what he and fellow Republicans might do in response to President Obama's vow to use executive action on immigration reform: selectively block the president's spending like the GOP did on the Guantanamo Bay prison issue.

Cotton, a House member recently elected to the Senate, told “Fox News Sunday” that the GOP-controlled lower chamber could pass a spending bill that limits the president’s ability to spend on Social Security cards for illegal immigrants, who may be granted some type of U.S. residency status through executive action.

Cotton compared the strategy to House Republicans passing a Defense spending bill in June that included a provision that barred funding for transferring detainees in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, established after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Republicans have opposed Obama’s plan to shutter the facility in part by sending detainees to federal prisons on American soil.

Congressional Republicans have been considering several strategies should Obama proceed before the new year with executive action, as he has vowed to do several times in the past couple of weeks.

Among the most drastic is to submit a spending bill that Obama would assuredly veto, which would temporarily shut down parts of the federal government after Dec. 11.

Cotton and Oklahoma Sen.-elect James Lankford, another GOP House member, each told Fox News on Sunday that they are not pushing for a shutdown, which is largely unpopular with Americans.

“I don’t think anybody wants to shut down government,” Cotton said.

Lankford said: “We’re not pursing some government shutdown.”

The president is expected, by as early as next week, to announce executive action on U.S. immigration law that would protect roughly 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation, change federal law-enforcement programs and expand business visas for non-citizens.

Among the other strategies Republicans are pushing are a temporary spending bill into next year when they control the Senate, suing the president to overturn his action, passing a stand-alone bill to try to stop him and House Republicans writing their own immigration bill to show they are serious about acting and pre-empt Obama.

The Democrat-controlled Senate last year passed bipartisan, comprehensive immigration-reform legislation.

The Defense spending bill also imposed a one-year moratorium on moving detainees to a foreign country, a sharp response to Obama’s decision to trade five Taliban leaders who had been held at Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a captive for five years in Afghanistan.

Republicans said Obama broke the law by failing to notify Congress at least 30 days before the swap and increased the terrorism risk to the United States with the exchange.

“President Obama’s recent exchange of five high-level terrorists without notifying Congress illustrates his blatant disregard for its role as a co-equal branch of government,” Cotton said at the time.