Just don’t call it a deal.
House Democrats on Monday said they expect Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerOvernight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return GOP senator: Reid's 'ramblings' are 'bitter, vulgar, incoherent' MORE (R-Ohio) to bring a clean Homeland Security bill to the floor this week, effectively ending the fight over funding for President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the House Democratic whip, said he is confident that a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September will soon reach the floor.
Pressed by reporters, Hoyer refused to say whether Boehner had promised a vote on the clean bill in exchange for the Democratic votes that averted a partial government shutdown on Friday night.
“Why do you think the Democrats voted for a one-week [bill] when we just, almost in a united fashion, voted against a three-week [bill]?” he said.
Speculation about a deal has been running rampant since Democrats made the surprise move to back legislation funding the DHS for one week after insisting that short-term bills were unacceptable.
Their reversal had many people believing an agreement was struck, despite repeated denials from GOP leaders and their aides.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Friday that she had been given assurances the House would vote on a clean bill to fund the department without provisions on immigration.
“Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week,” she wrote in a letter to the House Democratic Caucus.
Asked Monday why Boehner is denying there was an agreement, Pelosi played coy.
“I never said there was a deal,” Pelosi told reporters. She pointed to the letter she sent to House Democrats.
“Read the letter carefully,” she said.
Hoyer stressed that a funding bill for the DHS would proceed under “regular order,” a point Boehner himself made in an interview on Sunday.
“The promise I made to Mrs. Pelosi is the same promise I made to Republicans, that we would follow regular order. The bill is back in the Senate. We’ve asked for a conference with the Senate,” Boehner said. “If they vote in fact not to go to conference, this bill may be coming back to the House.”
A Democratic leadership aide on Monday said there is “no question” that Boehner promised House Democrats a vote this week on legislation that would fund the DHS through September.
“I can confirm absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, that Speaker Boehner committed, directly and without any ambiguity, that, in return for Democrats helping him pass the one-week CR [continuing resolution], he would bring up the clean, yearlong appropriations bill that passed the Senate Friday and let it pass the House,” the leadership aide said.
“There is no question whatsoever.”
In the Senate, Democrats on Monday followed through on their pledge to block a conference committee from forming to negotiate the differences between a clean funding bill passed by the Senate and a measure passed by the House that would defund Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
The motion to go to conference failed in a 47-43 vote. The Senate then voted 58-31 to take no action on the House’s request for negotiations, putting the ball back in Boehner’s court.
“This push by House Republicans to go to conference is the very definition of an exercise in futility,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “They want to turn it into something that cannot pass. .... We will not be a party to yet another charade by House Republicans.”
Bringing up the clean bill would carry huge risks for Boehner. He is likely to see scores of defections from his party, raising new questions about his ability to lead his conference.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), one of the conservatives who voted against the three-week funding bill, said it’s time for the House to take a stand against Obama’s actions on immigration.
“Congress isn’t going to be strong until we start standing up for what we have jurisdiction over,” Gosar told The Hill in a brief interview over the weekend.
“I’ve been very forthright in the challenge [to Boehner], as have my colleagues and friends: Don’t go here. This is wrong.”
Should the clean bill reach the House floor, it appears there would be enough support to pass it.
A Democratic motion on Friday aimed at moving to the clean DHS bill failed, 201-218, but 21 Republicans voted in favor of it — nine votes short of the support Democrats would need to pass the clean bill if all Democrats are present.
The House is scheduled to leave town on Thursday for a weeklong recess.
Asked if the House will be in session on Friday to deal with DHS funding, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) replied, “I think we’ll act well before then.”
Jonathan Easley contributed.