A handful of Senate Democrats are publicly expressing disapproval of the president's executive action on immigration, but it's not yet clear that any of them are willing to do anything to stop him.
"Our immigration system is broken, and I support a comprehensive plan to fix it, but executive orders aren’t the way to do it," Missouri senator Claire McCaskill said in a statement issued late Friday afternoon.
"I am as frustrated as anyone that Congres is not doing its job, but the President shouldn't make such significant policy changes on his own," Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana said in a statement Thursday.
"I’m disappointed the President decided to use executive action at this time on this issue as it could poison any hope of compromise or bipartisanship in the new Senate before it has even started," Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota said in a statement Thursday.
Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, told Politico: "I worry that his taking unilateral action could in fact inflame public opinion, change the subject from immigration to the president. I also have constitutional concerns about where prosecutorial discretion ends and unconstitutional executive authority begins."
Senator Jon Tester of Montana offered more tepid criticism, telling Reuters that he would "prefer" that the issue be handled by Congress. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia told Politico that Obama's move made him "very uncomfortable."
Assuming that Republican Bill Cassidy wins the Louisiana Senate runoff on December 6, there will be 54 Republican senators in January. If these six Democrats all voted with Republicans to deny the president funding for his executive amnesty, the Senate could overcome a filibuster and put a bill on the president's desk. President Obama would almost certainly veto a bill blocking his executive action, but such a scenario, reports Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, "could have a serious impact on the politics of this fight if and when a government shutdown battle looms" and has caused much concern among Democrats and liberals.
But would any of these Democrats actually vote to deny the president funding to carry out his executive action? "I haven’t given it a thought," Joe Manchin told Politico. Neither have the other Democratic critics of the president indicated how they would vote on such a measure.
The polling shows that what the president has done is unpopular, but none of the aforementioned Democrats are up for reelection in 2016. The only two Democratic senators from swing states up for reelection in 2016 are Harry Reid of Nevada and Michael Bennet of Utah, both of whom have signed a letter expressing approval of the president's action. Other swing state Democrats, such as Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, have endorsed the president's move, while Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Mark Warner of Virginia have remained silent.
Although much reporting has focused on the fact that Republicans don't know how to respond to the president's executive amnesty, it's clear that many Democrats are also uncertain about their next steps.