By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau
URBANDALE — Efforts to keep the federal government operating under a continuing spending resolution could be knocked off course if President Barack Obama takes steps to address immigration issues via executive action that bypasses Congress, Iowa Congressman Steve King said Wednesday.
King, a Kiron Republican who represents the Fourth Congressional District in Iowa’s northwest quadrant, said there is growing concern that the Democratic president is considering granting amnesty via executive order to millions of immigrants who have entered the country illegally.
“(The president) continues to float the trial balloon,” King said.
“If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that I’ll just say is nearly politically nuclear,” King told reporters after he addressed more than 50 people who attended a Westside Conservative Club breakfast meeting.
Congress faces another deadline in September to approve a budget or passing a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown, but those discussions could be impacted significantly if issues relating to immigration policy and border security jump to the forefront in the coming weeks.
“I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that” should Obama move ahead without Congress on the immigration issue. “I just think if he does that it’ll bring an immediate response and reaction.”
The president already has used executive authority to make changes to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, that has drawn the ire of Republicans, so a presidential foray into immigration policy action likely would trigger calls for a special session of Congress and become part of the continuing resolution discussion, he added.
King said he does not want to go through another government shutdown scenario. But he believes GOP leadership should keep the option as a negotiating tool while events unfold heading toward a fall election that could impact the congressional makeup for the next two years.
“When we hear some of our leaders say there will be no government shutdown, that’s the political equivalent of saying there will be no boots on the ground,” King said.
“We have to see what the president is going to do. If he commits a blatantly lawless act by ‘legalizing’ millions of lawbreakers; if he does that, then all bets are off,” added King. “That’s the biggest thing in front of us, the biggest unknown.”