Boehner Faces Dissent Over Strategy To Punt Immigration Shutdown Fight

December 2, 2014 11:48 a.m.

House Republican leaders are urging members to get behind a strategy that would avoid a government funding showdown over immigration at least for a few months.

At a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning, top Republicans pushed for a two-tier plan: pass a resolution to disapprove of President Barack Obama’s executive actions and fund immigration enforcement only through March 2015 before going home for Christmas.

The so-called CRomnibus strategy involves passing an “omnibus” spending bill to keep the government funded through September 2015, while stripping out money for the immigration law-enforcing Department of Homeland Security and funding that department only through next March in a clean “continuing resolution.”

But there’s a problem: Republicans don’t have the votes yet.

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“I don’t think there’s enough support for it yet, with Republican votes, on a clean CR for DHS,” Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) told reporters after the meeting. “I think we’ve got to flesh some of that out. I think the members, by and large, are leaning that way, trending that way. But I think there are still some questions that need to be answered by some of the more conservative ones, who I think want to vote for it, but they’re wrestling over what the details would be.”

House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) message to the conference was that Republicans are better off fighting Obama’s actions next year when they take control of the Senate and pick up their largest House majority since the 1920s.

“I think [Republican members] understand that it’s going to be difficult to take meaningful action while we’ve got Democratic control of the Senate,” Boehner told reporters. He added that “no decisions have been made at this point,” an indication that the votes aren’t there yet and the strategy could change.

As is often the case, Boehner squeezed on both ends — from Democrats who view the CRomnibus as a trojan horse for a shutdown next year, and from conservatives who are upset that it lets Obama implement his immigration executive actions in the coming months.

Boehner’s challenge is to win over the House’s “hell no” caucus, which wants definitive action to block funding for Obama’s actions ahead of the Dec. 11 deadline to keep the government open or face a shutdown.

“From where I stand, I am not voting to fund the president’s lawlessness. I will not have my name on something that allows him to violate the Constitution at will. That should be the standard,” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said. “We have got to cut off the funding to the president’s lawlessness, and fund everything else.”

King also pushed for a “censure” resolution that contains “stronger, sharper, harsher language that will put a historical mark on Barack Obama’s legacy.” There are some legal problems with that option, but numerous conservatives support it.

Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action, called Boehner’s strategy “a blank check for amnesty.”

In a sign of how angry the conservative base is, even the House GOP’s most outspoken supporter of immigration reform had fighting words for Obama.

“I agree with some of the things that might be in that executive action, however, he’s the one who, on more than two dozen occasions, has said he does not have the legal authority to do so,” Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL) told TPM. “If he hasn’t been lying for five years — and I’m not going to say the president’s a liar — if the president has not been lying to the American people, and to you, and to all of us, and what he’s been saying for five years is true, and he doesn’t have the legal authority to do this, then he’s putting all these people at greater risk.”

“There’s going to be a million [legal] challenges,” he said.

The tentative plan, according to a House Republican leadership aide, is
to vote on the proposal by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) to disapprove of Obama’s
moves this week, and on the Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) inspired CRomnibus
next week.

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