By Mike Lillis - 02/03/15 04:34 PM EST
House conservatives are doubling down in their efforts to undo President Obama's lenient new deportation policies as part of a bill funding the Homeland Security Department.
The Republicans, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), are vowing to hold the line on tying funding for the Homeland Security Department to language reversing Obama’s executive actions on immigration — even after Senate Democrats blocked their bill from being considered in the upper chamber.
Rep. John FlemingJohn FlemingIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns House panel approves Puerto Rico debt relief MORE (R-La.) echoed that message, saying “many of us agree that we should stand behind the one bill that we sent over there.”
“Most of us feel that way,” he said just before the Senate vote. “Anything less than that, we're not going to get any better result anyway. So why not just go for what's really right?”
Tuesday's Senate vote was 51-48 to end debate on the House-passed Homeland Security bill — far shy of the 60 supporters GOP leaders needed to move to a vote on final passage.
Every Senate Democrat voted against proceeding to the package, as did Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
It’s unclear how GOP leaders intend to proceed. Republican leaders in both chambers are under pressure to stand firm in opposition to Obama’s actions.
DHS funding is set to expire on Feb. 28, and Republicans are also wary of the political blowback if they're seen as threatening a shutdown of the agency, particularly in the immediate wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last month.
Democrats, who are calling for a clean bill to fund the Homeland Security Department, have used every opportunity to hammer the Republicans for risking the nation's security to score political points with their conservative base.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday accused GOP leaders of “baying at the moon instead of honoring their responsibilities to protect [Americans].” And Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, said there's zero chance the Republicans succeed in rolling back executive orders that Obama has vowed to defend with a veto.
“They knew that in December,” Hoyer said of GOP leaders. “Nobody doubts ... that this is all about the politics of dealing with their right wing. Period. Nothing else.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) last month forecast that Senate GOP leaders would come up with their own provisions to push back against Obama's executive actions, setting the stage for a conference with the House bill.
“We have our body, we do our work. The Senate can do their work, and we can go to conference,” McCarthy said.
But Scalise's comment Tuesday indicates that at least some GOP leaders are ready to adopt a harder line. And they'll have support from a number of rank-and-file conservatives if they do.
“Most of us are saying, 'We're going to hold out for everything,'” Fleming said.