Sen. Jeff Sessions calls Obama's executive action a 'power grab'

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," November 21, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We're not giving up. We're going to keep on working with members of Congress to make permanent reform a reality. But until that day comes, there are actions that I have the legal authority to take that will help make our immigration system more fair.


MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Okay. You can listen all day. He didn't go onto explain why he now thinks it's legal. But in any event, that was President Obama in Las Vegas justifying the executive orders that unilaterally change U.S. immigration law. Our next guest says, the president is exceeding his authority and Congress has a, quote, "Institutional and historic duty to fight back." Republican Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. Senator, good to see you tonight.

And what do you mean by that?

JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALA., SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE: Well, this Congress has certain powers. The Congress makes laws that the president himself said, he executes laws. That's what the constitution is all about at its most fundamental level. Congress pass laws, the President asked Congress to change those laws, Congress refused, and so he just ignores those laws.

Creates a system, Megyn, that would give five million people unlawfully in America the right to stay here, the right to take any job, a photo ID, a social security number. And he'll pull down wages of Americans, reduce the opportunity for work. And experts tell us it will create a tidal wave of increased illegal immigration in the future.

KELLY: Now, I know that you want stopgap short funding measures to get the Congress through to when the Republicans take over the Senate in January. What kind of response are you seeing so far? Do you believe your initial suggestions have been well-received?

SESSIONS: I think our Congress, he wants to be very careful. They want to handle this challenge through the constitutional order in a responsible way. Nobody wants a shutdown, certainly not I. Congress should fund the government of the United States, but Congress has a duty not to fund programs that we believe are bad, unlawful or unworthy of financial support. And I think we will fund this government. I think we should not fund the proposal that the President wants to carry out.

KELLY: Have you heard any reaction from Republicans to that? Are they on board with you?

SESSIONS: Well, yes, a lot of people support that. A lot of people are thinking it through. A lot of people have different ideas, frankly. I think that this Congress should -- Republicans should be able to unite.

Five Democratic senators before the election voted for an amendment that I offered that would have blocked this matter. So it's not a purely partisan issue.

KELLY: Here's my next question. I know you've been poring through what the President actually did. And you believe that there are benefits that he's extending in here for political operatives. How so?

SESSIONS: Well, I think the whole team, I'm not sure what you mean political operatives, but it provides benefits to increased immigration for businesses. It gives everyone here that he would approve the right to take jobs throughout the economy, whether it's a power company, truck drivers or the county commission or City Hall. So it's a massive move to provide more job seekers when we don't have enough jobs in this country.

KELLY: I know that, you know, "The Wall Street Journal" says that the changes fall well short of the legislative changes businesses wanted, which was more legal visas for high skilled and low skilled workers. They're saying he did not go as far as these companies wanted.

SESSIONS: Well, companies don't get to set the immigration policy in America. They need to understand that. We have a shortage of jobs in America. Wages are falling. They've been down $2,300. Median income since 2009, $3,000 since 2007. Wages are down. You don't have a decline in wages if you have a shortage of workers. So I don't think we have a shortage of labor in America. We need to get our people working, Megyn.

We've got people on welfare. We've got people unemployed. People whose wages are down. People working part time. We want to work full time. And that's who's being forgotten in this business. Twenty times reporters said this summer business groups are in the White House negotiating this kind of a deal. And I think it's really awful. Somebody needs to stand up for the American worker on the integrity of our legal system.

KELLY: I understand.

SESSIONS: Constitutional order.

KELLY: Senator Jeff Sessions, good to see you, sir.

SESSIONS: Thank you.

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