The morning after President Barack Obama announced executive actions that will allow more than 4 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States legally, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul called for a "rebuke" of what he said is a dangerous power grab by the White House.
The basic principles of democracy are at stake, the potential Republican presidential candidate from Bowling Green told a gathering of the Kentucky Association of Counties in Lexington.
"This isn't about immigration," Paul said. "It isn't about health care. It's about something that is fundamental to our republic, which is the separation of powers."
Paul told the crowd at KACo that Republicans in Congress see a pattern — on health care, on military intervention in the Middle East and now on immigration — of Obama ruling by "edict." In response, lawmakers are looking for ways to "rein him in."
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"The danger of what the president is doing on immigration isn't necessarily the details, although I'm opposed to what he's doing now," Paul said. "The danger is in allowing so much power to gravitate to one person. And I don't care whether they're a Republican or Democrat."
Fury on the right has led some commentators to ask whether a Republican Congress might try to stop Obama by filing articles of impeachment or forcing a government shutdown next month.
But Paul told reporters after his speech that "nobody's talking about impeachment or shutdowns."
In an interview with the Herald-Leader, Paul said he thinks talk of impeachment or shutting down the government is coming from Democrats who see a political upside if Republicans overreach in trying to stop Obama.
"Most of that is on the other side," Paul said. "That's what they would love to have Republicans talking about, because I think they realize they can win that debate in the public."
"I'm in all the meetings," he said. "I hear everything on our side. I hear a lot of stuff from the House side. Nobody in any position of authority is talking about impeachment or shutdown."
Paul said he would like to see the U.S. House of Representatives pass a resolution that rebukes Obama by saying the president is acting against the will of Congress and in defiance of current immigration law.
It probably wouldn't stop the president, Paul said, but it could be a useful tool if Obama's actions and executive authority are challenged in the courts.
"I think it will be struck down," he said. "I really do think the court will strike it down."
Paul also told reporters, "The other way a lawless president can be reined in is through the appropriations process."
The senator said he wants the new Republican-led Congress to go through all of the lingering appropriations bills next year and cut funding to presidential actions they deem unconstitutional.
Paul said he thinks the new Congress will pass some form of immigration reform, which he said he favors, but he cautioned that he thinks "maybe (Obama) poisoned the well" by issuing executive orders.
He warned that trying to rebuke Obama by failing to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government next month would only repeat the same mistakes the GOP made when Congress shut down the government last year over the Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare.
"They'll blame Republicans, and then the government shuts down," Paul said. "I think that's a mistake."
Paul, who has openly said he is considering a run for president in 2016, with a decision to come in the spring, told reporters he will announce in the next two weeks that he is running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.
"I am going to run, so it's not that much of an announcement," he said.