McCain to GOP: Fund DHS, let courts decide Obama's immigration actions

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainGOP lawmakers slam secret agreement to help lift Iran bank sanctions Kerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria Trump, Clinton to headline Al Smith dinner MORE (R-Ariz.) on Thursday said Congress should not let the Department Homeland Security (DHS) shut down because it appears the courts will decide the fate of President Obama's executive actions on immigration. 

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” McCain was asked what he would say to his GOP colleagues in Congress about making sure DHS is funded by Feb. 27.

“I would put sufficient blame on the Democrats for not allowing us to move forward in the Senate. But having said that, now I’m hopeful with this court decision—with the declaration that the president himself has acted unconstitutionally as he himself stated I think 22 times—that we would let the courts move forward with this issue since we have a favorable ruling,” he said. 

McCain didn't explicitly say Republicans should drop riders the House GOP attached to the DHS funding bill that would roll back Obama's immigration orders, but suggested that might be the best course of action. 

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“It’s not a good idea to shut down the Department of Homeland Security,” he said. “We should be working together despite the obstruction of our Democratic colleagues to resolve this issue so that we don’t shut it down. Now we have the perfect reason to not shut it down because the courts have decided, at least initially, in our favor.” 

McCain was referring to the ruling a Texas judge issued late Monday that temporarily halted the immigration actions Obama unveiled last November. As a result, DHS had to freeze its plans to implement part of those actions on Wednesday. 

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have repeatedly blocked a House-passed $40 billion DHS spending bill because it contains riders that would torpedo Obama’s immigration orders from 2011, 2012 and 2014.

McCain has voted with most of the Senate GOP conference to open up debate several times on the bill. Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerFunding bill rejected as shutdown nears Senate lays groundwork for spending deal GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase MORE (Nev.) has been the lone Republican who has voted with Democrats.

GOP leaders have not indicated whether the immigration ruling could influence a change in their strategy. Many Republicans, in fact, pointed to the ruling as a reason for Democrats to end their filibuster in the Senate.

When Congress returns to Washington from recess next week, lawmakers will have four legislative days remaining to break the impasse and pass a DHS spending bill by next Friday.