House GOP Rebuffs McConnell’s Plea For A Lifeline In Immigration Fight

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders on Wednesday flatly rejected a plea from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to pass a separate Homeland Security funding bill to avert a shutdown of the department on Feb. 27.

“The House did its job. We won the fight to fund the Department of Homeland Security and stop the president’s unconstitutional [immigration] actions,” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters after a GOP meeting. “Now it’s time for the Senate to do their work. You know, in the gift shop out here, they’ve got these little booklets on how a bill becomes a law.”

Asked about McConnell’s remark that it’s now up to the House, Boehner smiled sarcastically.

“I love Mitch,” he said.

The GOP leadership’s strategy is music to the ears of the hardliners in Boehner’s conference, who want to fight tooth and nail to stop President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. It deepens the impasse over DHS funding as the clock ticks to a partial shutdown of the important department.

“All of leadership’s statements are as if I had said them. So that’s good enough,” Rep. Steve King (R-IA), an outspoken immigration critic, told TPM.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told TPM, “Our leadership is taking a pretty strong stance that the Senate should act, that we’ve done our work.”

The overwhelming view of House Republicans in the Wednesday meeting was that the Senate needs to pass some sort of bill before the House acts again, multiple Republicans said. The lower chamber has passed a far-reaching bill to fund DHS while overturning Obama’s immigration moves dating back to 2011. Senate Democrats filibustered that bill thrice last week, leading McConnell to say Tuesday that the Senate was “stuck” and it was now up to the House.

“What was suggested in the conference today was that, no, the House has acted, and now it’s the Senate’s turn. And we’ll see what comes back,” Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) told TPM.

Was there any desire to heed McConnell’s call?

“You never say never, but not at this point,” Sanford said.

Multiple Republicans said there was no discussion about passing a stopgap “continuing resolution” to keep DHS funds flowing at current levels in order to avert a shutdown.

Boehner showed a flash of anger when pressed on the GOP’s failing strategy.

“Why don’t you ask the Senate Democrats when they’re going to get off their ass and do something,” he told reporters, “other than to vote no?”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) office shot back at Boehner, with a hint of glee over GOP struggles to resolve the standoff.

“We know Speaker Boehner is frustrated but cursing is not going to resolve the squabbling among Republicans that led to this impasse,” Adam Jentleson, Reid’s spokesman, said in an email. “The Republican Congress is a mess, pure and simple.”

He claimed Republicans are in this jam because Boehner and McConnell are “unwilling to stand up to Senator [Ted] Cruz.”

This article was updated at 12:03 p.m. EST to include a response from Harry Reid’s office.

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