Conservative summit raises pressure on GOP ahead of possible shutdown
© Greg Nash

GOP activists will converge this week on the nation’s capital for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just as Capitol Hill lawmakers are staring down a possible Department of Homeland Security shutdown.


The confluence of events could put additional pressure on Republicans to demand that their efforts to roll back President Obama’s executive orders on immigration remain tied to legislation funding the agency. 

Without a new funding bill, the agency would shut down on Saturday, though many employees would continue to go to work. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillary Clinton: Voter suppression has led to 'crisis in democracy' in the US New York Times authors blame Kavanaugh correction on editing error: 'There was zero intent to mislead' The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? MORE (R-Ky.) has signaled a willingness to separate the immigration fight from Homeland Security funding. He will bring legislation to the Senate floor this week that would defund Obama’s actions from late last year that would defer deportations for millions of illegal immigrants.

But it does not appear that bill would have the 60 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster. If the bill fails, McConnell will have to choose whether to bring a funding bill with no additional provisions to the Senate floor.

The annual CPAC, held just outside Washington, in National Harbor, Md., brings in thousands of grassroots conservatives. Activists and speakers typically rail against efforts to bend to bipartisan compromise and to the party establishment. 

Among the most strident believers on the right, any efforts to push through immigration reform are non-starters, and the president’s executive orders have fired up the GOP base.

Nearly all of the major likely White House hopefuls plan to address the conference at some point over the three-day gathering.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzProspects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer Ted Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report 2020 Democrats call for Kavanaugh to be impeached MORE (R-Texas), who led the charge to defund ObamaCare in 2013 that led to a 16-day government shutdown, will speak Thursday afternoon. Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul: Almost every mass shooter 'is sending off signals' Liz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (R-Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCalifornia poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation GOP group's ad calls on Graham to push for election security: 'Are you still trying?' MORE (R-Fla.) will also address participants, as will former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), a supporter of immigration reform who has faced resistance from hard-liners.

Some events at CPAC will also deal with immigration.

The title of a planned panel on Thursday afternoon captures the dilemma within the party: “Immigration: Can Conservatives Reach a Consensus.” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) will speak at it, along with Alfonso Aguilar of the American Principles Project and Mario Lopez of the Hispanic Leadership Fund.

Duncan has led conservative lawmakers in urging them to not bend on tying immigration to Homeland Security funding, circulating a letter this week urging Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE (R-Ohio) to "stand firm against these unlawful executive actions."