Congress has the power to defund President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty order, the Congressional Research Service announced Wednesday. This, after a week of bipartisan declarations that Congress was powerless to stop the order.
“In light of Congress’s constitutional power over the purse, the Supreme Court has recognized that ‘Congress may always circumscribe agency discretion to allocate resources by putting restrictions in the operative statutes,'” reads a report from the Congressional Research Service. The report was sent to Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions’ office, first reported by Breitbart News, and has since been obtained by The Daily Caller.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is an “authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan” congressional analysis outfit that operates out of the Library of Congress.
The analysis stands in stark contrast with a previous analysis by the Republican-dominated House Appropriations Committee, which issued a Thursday statement saying that the agency tasked with executing the order, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “is entirely self-funded through the fees it collects on various immigration applications. Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the ‘E-Verify’ program. Therefore, the appropriations process cannot be used to ‘defund’ the agency.”
“If a statute were enacted which prohibited appropriated funds from being used for some specified purposes, then the relevant funds would be unavailable to be obligated or expended for those purposes,” the new CRS report counters.
Essentially, this means that agencies can’t operate independently of legislative oversight, regardless of the source of the funds.
The news has come as a relief to conservative opponents of the executive order.
“Of course that’s what CRS says,” a congressional GOP aide told TheDC. “What’s the point of even having a Congress if that’s not the case? To argue otherwise is untrue and, frankly, ludicrous.”
“CRS confirmed what we all knew to be true: Congress can absolutely use the appropriations process to block President Obama’s executive actions,” Heritage Action for America communications director Dan Holler told TheDC. “Now the only question is whether the Republican-controlled House will take action when they return in December.”
“The American people’s Congress has the power and every right to deny funding for unworthy activities,” Sessions said Thursday. “It is a routine and constitutional application of congressional power. There is no question that Congress has the power to block this expenditure and no doubt that it can be done. If such language is not included, the measure will be subject to the same 60-vote threshold in the Senate and simple majority in the House.”