White House doubts shutdown fight over immigration reform

The White House would be "surprised" if congressional Republicans link efforts to block any forthcoming executive actions on immigration to future budget or debt ceiling measures, press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

"I don't think that there are many analysts that believe that the political standing of the Republican Party was enhanced by shutting down the government," Earnest said. "So I would be surprised if Republican leaders chose to pursue that path again.

“At the same time, I also heard Republican leaders, in the aftermath of the last budget showdown, indicate that they would never again hold hostage the full faith and credit of the United States of America. And I take those leaders at their word," he added.

The White House spokesman, though, refused to say whether the president would veto spending bills that were conditioned on rolling back President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' MORE (R-Fla.) have suggested the GOP could use the budget process to halt administrative actions being contemplated by the White House.

"I don’t think and I certainly hope it’s not going to happen again," Earnest said of that possibility. "Both because the vast majority of Republicans don’t think it’s in their interest to do so, and because important members of the Republican leadership have ruled out doing it."

Last year, the administration made clear that it would not sign any spending bills that rolled back provisions of the president's signature healthcare law. A GOP effort to defund ObamaCare led to a 16-day government shutdown last October.

The White House had originally planned to unveil the new immigration steps at the end of summer, but punted that decision until after the midterms.

Earnest said immigration reform activists who are concerned that the White House might again compromise on the executive actions shouldn't worry.

"I think the president’s performance and record on immigration reform should properly be evaluated in the context of executive actions that he will announce before the end of the year," Earnest said.

Earnest said the delay was born out of concern "that, had the president moved forward with his announcement prior to election day, you would have seen Republican candidates do more to make the immigration issue central to their campaign."

"In the event that they were successful in their campaign, the concern would be that they would cite their opposition to immigration reform as a reason for their success," he said. "That is not a storyline that the president wanted, or that anybody here wanted to contribute to."