The White House has been debating the timing of an announcement on the president's executive action on immigration reform, press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Earnest said the president likely would not allow Capitol Hill considerations to weigh heavily on the timing of his announcement because Republicans have signaled a willingness to pre-emptively defund executive action.

"This is something that has been discussed at the White House," Earnest said. 

Earnest acknowledged that some think "Republicans are less likely to attach some kind of rider that would defund any of the president’s actions” if the White House waits until after Congress passes a continuing resolution (CR) or omnibus bill to fund the government.

But he said the issue could be argued "both ways."

"My sense is that even if the president doesn’t announce anything until late in December, that will not prevent Republicans from pre-emptively trying to attach to the CR or an omnibus bill a proposal to make the implementation of that executive action harder," Earnest said.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason Reid'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act Democrats would rip up election law under the guise of a COVID emergency After the loss of three giants of conservation, Biden must pick up the mantle MORE (D-Nev.) said the president should wait to make an announcement because of concern it could impact legislative work on a budget deal.

“The president has said he's going to do the executive action. The question is when. It's up to him," Reid said, according to Reuters. "But I'd like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it."

But in an interview airing Monday, Reid appeared to backtrack, saying he believed "is should be done now."

Earnest said he did not have "any additional updates as it relates to timing," but that reviewing proposals for executive actions were "something that’s on his agenda this week."

The White House also indicated that it would not "view very favorably" any "unwarranted" Republican efforts to attach measures undercutting executive action to a spending bill, although it stopped short of an explicit veto threat.

"It’s hard to render a particularly definitive judgment on those kinds of proposals, because they haven’t been put forward yet," Earnest said. "But I think, as a general matter, as it relates to the immigration reform decision that rests on the president’s desk, that the president is confident that whatever action he will take will be within the confines of the law."