Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) late Friday formally challenged the constitutionality of the $1 trillion spending bill, and launched a process that could force the Senate to vote on whether the bill violates the Constitution because it allows President Barack Obama to implement his executive action on immigration.
Cruz took to the floor Friday evening, and said Obama's immigration action violates the Constitution and is closer to the act of a monarch than a president.
"The president has justified this illegal amnesty by saying he told Congress what he wanted, and Congress refused to give it to him," Cruz said. "Well, Mr. President, the relationship in our constitutional republic between the president and the Congress is not the relationship between a parent and a child."
"The president does not get to demand of Congress, 'here is the policy I want; either give me what I want, or I will decree it to be so and ignore the law,' " he said. "That is the president's bargaining position."
After warning that Congress must stand its ground and fight Obama's action, Cruz made a point of order against the spending bill by arguing it would allow Obama's actions to stand.
"I am now offering and raising a constitutional point of order against Division L of this bill on the grounds that it violates the following provisions of the Constitution," he said. Division L of the bill limits funding for the Department of Homeland Security until February 27, but it doesn't go as far as many Republicans wanted, as it does nothing to limit Obama's immigration plan.
Cruz said his point of order states that the bill violates the separation of powers provisions in the Constitution, language enumerating the powers of Congress, and language that says the president must faithfully execute the laws.
"It is incumbent on this body to resolve those constitutional questions, and to honor and protect the constitutional authority of the United States Congress," he said.
While Cruz was not more specific on the Senate floor, points of order are generally aimed at derailing legislation when a senator believes some rule has been violated. They generally require the chair to rule whether those arguments are valid.
In this case, Cruz's effort may at some point force a Democratic senator to rule his points are invalid, which could prompt Cruz to appeal that ruling and seek a vote among all senators.
Amanda Carpenter, Cruz's communications director, told TheBlaze that Cruz's challenge is part of his effort to force the Senate to vote on a measure that would defund Obama's immigration policy.
The Senate adjourned Friday night just before 11 p.m., and moments before, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asked for a unanimous agreement that the Senate start voting on the spending bill late Monday. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected, and asked if Reid would allow a vote to defund Obama's action.
"I am unable to do that," Reid said. Because of that disagreement, there was still no agreement to speed up the process for considering the spending bill, and Reid said the Senate would return to work Saturday at noon to work on nominations.
Before launching his formal protest against the spending bill, Cruz criticized Republicans in both the House and Senate for negotiating the huge bill that has been harshly criticized on both sides. He also said that for now, he was taking GOP leaders in the House and Senate at their word that they would fight harder next year to stop Obama's immigration plan.
But Cruz also indicated he would be watching closely, and that Americans should not settle for more excuses next year.
"When our leaders say as a commitment, we will fight and we will stop President Obama's illegal amnesty, I take them at their word," he said. "But I am confident the American people will hold them to their word."
"The American people may not be quite so trust as am I, because they've seen far too many members of Congress say one thing and do another, and we will learn soon enough if those statements are genuine and sincere," he added.