Boehner plots two-step course on immigration to GOP rank and file

Greg Nash



With the shutdown clock ticking, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday pitched a two-step plan to House Republicans that would keep the government funded and also push back against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Boehner told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting he plans to bring a bill to the floor this week that would deal with Obama’s actions, which are providing legal status and work permits for up to 5 million illegal immigrants.

{mosads}The House would then vote next week on a so-called cromnibus spending bill.

The measure would combine an omnibus spending package funding most of the government through September 2015 with a separate, shorter-term measure funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees immigration-related services, for a few months.

The idea behind the package would be to give Republicans leverage with the administration going forward, though it is not entirely clear that they can prevent Obama’s actions on deportations from going forward with the power of the purpose.

The agencies that will carry out the order are funded through user fees.

For the first step, House GOP leaders have not settled on a specific measure, though one option is a largely symbolic bill, introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), that would state that the executive branch doesn’t have the authority to delay deportations.

Aides said the Yoho bill could come to the floor Thursday.

After the closed-door Republican meeting, Boehner told reporters that no final decisions had been made.

“This is a serious breach of our Constitution. It’s a serious threat to our system of government,” Boehner said. “And frankly we have limited options and limited ability to deal with it directly, but that’s why we’re continuing to talk to our members.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said the omnibus would include 11 appropriations bills.

He said the separate continuing resolution funding the Homeland Security Department would last until “sometime in March.”

“We’re negotiating with the Senate — with the Appropriations Committee — on the contents of the two bills and those negotiations are going well. They’re on schedule. We’re working day and night. Staff worked through Thanksgiving. We’re ready to file a bill hopefully by early next week,” he said.

Congress must pass a new spending bill by next Friday or the government could shut down.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who is close to leadership, said GOP leaders are trying to reach a consensus with rank-and-file members who have often bucked them.

“Look, we’re going to have a consensus position as a conference,” he said. “There’s nothing I’ve heard that would be difficult for me to support.”

The House GOP conference will have to make a decision by the end of the week, Cole said.

Republicans at the meeting were “very positive” about Boehner’s proposals, said Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), although he acknowledged there is some “disagreement” with the Speaker.

“I would say there’s a solid majority in support of the Speaker,” he said.

Conservatives are expressing worry about providing any funding to immigration services.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he thinks that Republicans’ best strategy is to block funding for Obama’s executive actions. Anything less isn’t enough, he said.

“They need to come to this point that we have to shut off the funding to the president’s lawless act. Nothing else,” King said. “I’m a little bit amazed that it isn’t more clear to more people.”

King argued the Yoho bill would be simply symbolic and ultimately go nowhere unless the next Congress managed to override President Obama’s veto.

“Harry Reid’s going to put it in his desk drawer. And in the next Congress, then if it passes, the president’s going to veto it. And so anything we do to restrain this president aside from cutting the funding now takes a two-thirds majority to accomplish its goal,” King said.

But Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said the Yoho measure was important for Republicans to express their disapproval of the executive actions.

“If members want to express the will of their constituents and the 700,000 people they represent, that’s what this is all about,” Gingrey said.

Supporters of the plan outlined by Boehner, such as Rep. Robert Pittinger (R-N.C.), fired back at suggestions it represents caving to the White House.

“I don’t think you’re caving when you’re trying to restrict the president who has been unconstitutional. I think you’re taking every initiative that is possible at this point so he’s not a position to enact the provisions he chooses to do,” he said.

If Democrats oppose the CRomnibus, Boehner will not be able to afford too many GOP objections. It’s also unclear if Senate Democrats will accept the measure.

This story was updated at 11:39 a.m.

Tags Boehner Government shutdown Harry Reid John Boehner Lame-duck Congress Phil Gingrey Ted Yoho
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