"It would be impossible to defund anything on an appropriations bill if we, in the first place, provide no funds for that agency," Hing said.
What this means is that defunding Obama's executive action isn't as easy as adding such language to a short-term or long-term spending package. The underlying statute could be changed, but that would necessitate an authorization bill, and this has been communicated to leadership, Hing said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, pushed back hard against the notion that Congress could not use the appropriations process to stop Obama.
"On its face, the suggestion that the White House can implement any unlawful and unconstitutional act so long as it pays for it with assessed fees is just plain wrong. "¦ There is no question that Congress has the power to block this expenditure and no doubt that it can be done," Sessions said in a Thursday afternoon statement.
Other members echoed Sessions's point. Rep. Steve King said he has language written that he believes would adequately block Obama's order in an appropriations bill.
"We could write language ... that would say, 'No funds appropriated in this legislation shall be used to carry out,'—and we can identify, then, the president's edict —'and no fees generated by any agency shall either be used to fund the president's unconstitutional edict,' " King said.
Rep. Lou Barletta also said he believes there is a way to target the funding, and he noted that he told leadership that he will introduce freestanding legislation Thursday that would bar DHS from issuing the permits Obama plans to grant.
"I think my bill stops it dead in its tracks, basically saying that the president, if he grants amnesty to illegal immigrants, that they cannot be issued work permits—period—by the Department of Homeland Security," Barletta said.
Last week, Rep. Matt Salmon, along with 62 cosigners, sent a letter to Rogers and Appropriations ranking member Nita Lowey calling on appropriators to block the executive action using the power of the purse. Specifically, he asked them to prohibit providing money for Obama's intent to give work permits and green cards to undocumented immigrants—two duties of U.S. CIS.
But voices in the party are cautioning members against toying around with government funding. Rep. Dennis Ross, a deputy GOP whip, said the president is trying to bait Republicans into overreacting, and he and others in leadership have been cautioning their members against doing so because it could spur an electoral backlash.
"As long as we keep the funding out there, we play into the president's hand of a government shutdown. And, hell, that's what he wants us to do," Ross said. "We've got to be careful about what expectations we give the American people."¦ Yes, we start with the purse strings over here. Yes, he have the Senate, but we don't have it yet. And we've got to be able to fund the government. We don't want him to take executive action, and we might be able to affect that, but at what risk do we try to stop that?"