02/05/2015 05:11 pm ET Updated Feb 05, 2015

House Democrat Warns Against Moving Forward With Immigration Lawsuit Without Hearings

WASHINGTON -- If House Republicans want to pursue a "seriously misguided" lawsuit against the president over immigration, they shouldn't do it by pushing through a resolution without going through a full hearing process, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, wrote Thursday in a letter to her Republican counterpart.

"I remain disappointed that the Majority is considering filing another such lawsuit at all and I am convinced that its primary purpose is political," Slaughter wrote in the letter to Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), which was provided to HuffPost. "But, regardless of our disagreement about the merits of a lawsuit, there is a right way to do important business in the House, and there is a wrong way."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week that the chamber is planning legal action against President Barack Obama for his recent decision to expand deportation relief and work permits to what could be up to 5 million undocumented immigrants who either came to the U.S. as children or are the parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

"The president's overreach when he took executive action to deal with the immigration problem in our country, frankly, is a violation of our Constitution. It's a violation of his oath of office," Boehner told Fox News. "We believe that the filing of a lawsuit to try and stop the president from violating the Constitution is an important step for our institution."

Boehner has not yet given details on how he plans to proceed with the lawsuit.

It comes at the same time Republicans in Congress are seeking to block Obama's immigration actions as part of a Department of Homeland Security funding bill. Last month, the House voted for a bill that would fund DHS, along with measures to restrict the president's immigration policies. Senate Republicans tried three times this week to move forward on that bill, but were blocked each time by Democrats.

DHS will face a shutdown after Feb. 27 if Congress does not approve either a full-year funding bill or a short-term continuing resolution.

The lawsuit could be an alternative to keeping immigration measures in the DHS bill, because it would allow Republicans to do something about Obama's actions without getting the blame -- fairly or unfairly -- for a DHS shutdown. Obama has repeatedly said he would veto any attempts to gut his immigration policies.

House Republicans recently took to the courts to combat the Affordable Care Act, another policy they have tried to combat legislatively only to face veto threats from the president. The House voted last year to sue Obama over his implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The authorization for that lawsuit went through a Rules Committee hearing with expert witnesses, and Slaughter said potential legal action on the immigration executive actions should take a similar path.

She asked Sessions to work through "regular order," including a hearing with witnesses, a meeting to mark up the legislation and then another meeting to approve the resolution to send it for a vote on the floor.

An aide for Sessions said the Rules Committee is reviewing Slaughter's letter, and that it plans to follow "normal procedures of taking the minority’s views in mind as we consider this bill."

The immigration executive actions already face a lawsuit from 26 states that contends Obama went beyond his constitutional powers. The White House has maintained he acted within his authority and that the actions ultimately will be upheld in the courts.



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