Boehner running out of options as DHS shutdown looms

Willie Grace | 2/26/2015, 5:43 p.m.
Congress remains at an impasse over funding the agency, which is set to shut down on Friday. That would put ...
Speaker Boehner Press Conference

Some Republicans are urging the House to point to the recent ruling by a Texas judge to suspend the administration's program to process visas for those wanting to remain in the country.

"The courts have acted. Accept the victor that the courts have given us, which is the President does not have the authority to do what he has done and vote to continue to fund the Department of Homeland Security. I think that is the right decision," Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyoming, said on CNN on Thursday.

There is some discussion among House Republicans about responding to the Senate with a new funding bill that would tie DHS money to the court's move to block the program. But Boehner maintained that the legislative branch needed to respond to what he argued was an effort by the President to circumvent their authority.

"The courts have stopped the President's executive action, at least temporarily. But having said that, I think there's a role for Congress to play in defending the Constitution and upholding the rule of law. And we intend to do that," Boehner said.

Some conservatives have said they don't feel any pressure to fund the agency before the deadline because most workers would still be required to come to work. Huelskamp told CNN employees at the agency just got paid last week so there is enough time to debate the issue before they need to approve continued funding, even on a short term basis.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson dismissed that notion and told reporters in between his visits with members, "that minimizes the impact of forcing people to work without a paycheck" and said he continues to press for "full funding."

The two top congressional Democrats -- Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi -- argued against anything other than passing a clean bill.

"If they send over a bill with all the riders in it they've shut down the government. We are not going to play games. We've been working for a month to come up with a clear funding proposal the President can sign," Reid said.

Reid and Pelosi also argued against a short term bill, saying it would hamper the agency's ability to plan and respond to emergencies, but the stopped short of saying they would vote against one.

The No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, told reporters he would support a short term funding bill -- like a week or so -- if that is all the House could pass but said it's not the preferred way to do it.

"Then we're back into this again and again and that, to me, is not desirable, Cornyn said.

Despite Boehner's efforts to keep the pressure on the Senate, the focus is squarely on him and how he balances pressure from those on the right who oppose any compromise, and other members who want to avoid being tagged with the blame for another shutdown at a time the GOP is proving it can govern.

When asked if he was concerned about his leadership role, an unfazed Boehner brushed off the question, saying, "No. Heaven sakes, no. Not at all."

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