Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has offered a new legislative solution to the Department of Homeland Security budget standoff, but the proposal would put House Speaker John Boehner in a tight spot with conservative lawmakers who see it as a cop-out.
The House's bill to strip funding for President Barack Obama's immigration orders has failed to pass the Senate four times amid Democratic calls for a clean bill, and despite the fact that the GOP now control the Senate.
In response, House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday issued a harsh rebuke to the Senate, saying House Republican leaders were waiting for them to act on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security.
"It's time for the Senate to do their job," he said.
Speaking to reporters, Boehner called on senators to act on a bill, saying the House was in a "wait-and-see mode," adding that staff members on both sides of Congress have been talking.
In a bid to prevent a shutdown before the current funding arrangement expires Friday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell proposed
a vote on fully funding the DHS without immigration stipulations, and a second, separate vote to prohibit the president's implementation of the immigration orders.
"I don't know what's not to like about this," McConnell said, according to The Washington Post.
"This is an approach that respects both points of view."
House Republican leaders have conspicuously failed to endorse the plan, the Post noted, with conservatives likely to see it as a cave-in to the administration and Boehner struggling to get the support of his conference.
House Republicans will meet behind closed doors on Wednesday morning to discuss the issue, according to the Post.
The Hill said it was far from clear whether Boehner could win a majority
of House Republican votes for the clean Homeland Security funding bill.
"The speaker has been clear: The House has acted, and now Senate Democrats need to stop hiding. Will they continue to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security or not?" Michael Steel, Boehner's spokesman, said, according to The Hill.
McConnell, meanwhile, has conceded that he doesn't know how the House will react to his plan but he has said he hopes the strategy will be enough to placate House Republicans.
"I don't know what the House will do but I do think we have a responsibility to act here," he said, according to The Hill.
Conservatives groups are already pushing Boehner to reject McConnell's plan. Heritage Action for America announced it would consider any vote for a clean bill as a negative mark for a lawmaker's legislative scorecard, The Hill reported.
Conservative Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions called on Boehner to stay the course and reject McConnell's plan.
"The House of Representatives acted wisely, properly, funding Homeland Security and not allowing activities to be carried out that are unlawful and that Congress has rejected," Sessions said, according to The Hill. "Now, there are some even on the Republican side that say, 'Oh, gosh, you know the president will blame us even if it's not our fault and we might as well cave in and give him what he wants.'"
"What Majority Leader McConnell has isn't a 'plan' but a 'cop-out,'" said Tristan Daedalus, spokesman for conservative Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, according to The Hill.
"By divorcing these two pieces of the bill, the majority leader is showing that he is more concerned with acquiescing to the ridiculous demands of the Democratic Caucus than for standing up for the institution of Congress."
He added, "The House should not take up a measure that cedes de facto lawmaking authority to the executive without repercussion."
Some Senate Republicans are urging Boehner to support McConnell's plan.
"I think it's a good solution to the problem — you have a debate on whether or not the executive action is good policy, lawful, and you don't put at risk the funding of DHS at a time when we need all of our defenses up and running," South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said, according to The Hill.
"I just hope our House colleagues understand that the growing threats against our nation are real."
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has refused to say whether Democrats would vote for the clean bill, saying he first wanted assurances from Boehner that it would pass in the House.
"Unless the speaker is in on the proposal — of course, we have to make sure that we can get a bill to the president, not that we send a hot potato to Boehner," Reid said, according to The Hill. "That doesn't do the trick."
Reid's statement sparked anger among Republicans.
"Apparently inspired by President Obama's own over-reach, Sen. Reid is now shamelessly threatening to filibuster a clean Homeland Security funding bill," a senior GOP House aide told The Hill.
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