Obama: Paychecks for 150,000 at risk

President Obama warned Republicans not to "jeopardize our national security" with their opposition to his executive actions on immigration during a speech Monday at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Looking to ratchet up pressure on congressional Republicans to fund the department through the end of the fiscal year, Obama said lawmakers needed "to put politics aside and pass a budget that funds our national security priorities at home and abroad."


He said 150,000 frontline DHS employees would be forced to work without pay if lawmakers don’t strike an agreement by the end of the month.

"These Americans aren't just working to keep us safe, they have to take care of their own families," Obama said. "The notion they would get caught up in a disagreement about policy doesn't make any sense."

Obama said some 40,000 Border Patrol agents and 50,000 Transportation Security Administration security screeners would be forced to work without pay, if lawmakers were unable to pass a funding bill. An additional 13,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and officers; 4,000 Secret Service workers; and 40,000 members of the Coast Guard would also miss their paychecks.

Republicans passed a short-term extension of DHS funding late last year in hopes they could use the threat of a shutdown as leverage to force Obama to roll back his executive actions offering deportation relief and work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants.

A spokesman for Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDemocrats seek wave to bolster House majority Bottom line Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking MORE (R-Ohio) noted that the House has passed a bill that funds the department and blocks the president's immigration moves.

“Americans are looking for real solutions, not political stunts," said BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDemocrats seek wave to bolster House majority Bottom line Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking MORE aide Cory Fritz. "As Speaker Boehner reminded President Obama last month, the president told the American people 22 times he could not take the unilateral immigration actions that he did. Twenty-two times he said it would exceed his authority."

But Senate Republicans don't appear to have enough votes to advance the House plan, which Obama has already threatened to veto, leaving GOP leaders scrambling to find alternative riders they could include that might satisfy the right while also drawing Democratic support.

The White House, meanwhile, is pressing its case for a "clean" budget bill free of policy provisions.

Obama said he was "confident that what we're doing is the right thing, and the lawful thing" on immigration.

"I'm calling on Congress to get this done," he said.

Last week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest invoked the December shooting of two New York City police officers while arguing for a clean bill.

“I'm not sure what you could do to more undermine the relationship between political leaders and law enforcement than to threaten to withhold their paychecks, even while they're doing their job,” Earnest said. “That's not the proper way to show their support for them.”

In a memo last week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said leaders would be “discussing with the conference the best way to continue to challenge the president's unconstitutional authority” if the Senate does not pass a bill blocking Obama’s executive action.

— Updated at 12:08 p.m.