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 McConnellSchumer on Trump intel shakeup: 'Disgrace,' 'closer to a banana republic' Bottom Line The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders's momentum puts Democrats on edge 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 CruzCruz targets California governor over housing 'prescriptions' This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Democrats: It's Trump's world, and we're just living in it 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 PaulCongress set for clash over surveillance reforms Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Pelosi names first-ever House whistleblower ombudsman director MORE (R-Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Agencies play catch-up over security concerns with TikTok Sanders: 'Unfair to simply say everything is bad' in Cuba under Castro 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 BoehnerCoronavirus poses risks for Trump in 2020 Lobbying world Pelosi-Trump relationship takes turn for the terrible MORE (R-Ohio) to "stand firm against these unlawful executive actions."