WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is calling for congressional Republicans to fight back against President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration, saying they should refuse to confirm the president's nominees until he reverses course.
"If the president announces executive amnesty, the new Senate majority leader who takes over in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a single nominee -- executive or judicial -- outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists," Cruz wrote in a recent Politico Magazine op-ed.
There is obviously some political risk in Republicans pursuing such a strategy, given the presidential election in two years and a Senate landscape that looks more favorable for Democrats to regain control in that election.
But during an interview with Cruz on "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace pointed out another potential downside to blocking Obama's nominations: Attorney General Eric Holder, a constant source of irritation for Republicans, would get to stay in his job longer. Holder announced in late September that he planned to retire, and earlier this month, Obama nominated Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to take his place. Holder has stated that he will remain in his position until his successor's nomination is confirmed by Congress.
"Are you saying that the Senate should refuse to confirm Loretta Lynch, the president's new nominee for attorney general, and thereby leave Eric Holder, who you don't like very much, in that position even longer?" asked Wallace.
Cruz largely avoided Wallace's question, simply saying that Republicans "should use the constitutional checks and balances we have to rein in the executive."
Wallace, however, persisted, and asked the question again. This time, Cruz still did not state directly that the Senate should block Lynch, but implied as much by saying that only positions of "vital national security" should get to the floor for a vote.
"In my view, the majority leader should decline to bring to the floor of the Senate any nomination other than vital national security positions," the senator said. "Now, that is a serious and major step."
In a prime-time address Thursday night, Obama announced that because Congress had failed to pass immigration reform, he would use his executive authority to bring deportation relief to 4 million or more undocumented immigrants.
The president's executive action will protect undocumented parents whose children are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, as well as immigrants who came to America as children and others with long-standing ties to the country, from being deported.
Obama defended his actions in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week," that aired Sunday morning. “The history is that I have issued fewer executive actions than most of my predecessors, by a long shot," he said. "The difference is the response of Congress, and specifically the response of some of the Republicans."
"But if you ask historians, take a look at the track records of the modern presidency, I’ve actually been very restrained, and I’ve been very restrained with respect to immigration," Obama added. "I bent over backwards and will continue to do everything I can to get Congress to work because that’s my preference.”
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