Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may have found a strategy to break the logjam with Democrats over the Department of Homeland Security funding, but in doing so, neglected to get the approval of House Speaker John Boehner, setting up the possibility of a new stalemate with just one day to go before triggering a partial shutdown.
According to Politico
, Boehner is in discussions about whether to accept the Senate's plan, which offers a clean funding bill and a separate vote to prohibit the president's implementation of the immigration orders.
Boehner may ultimately back down if the clock runs out, but he has so far distanced himself from the proposal as he faces the prospect of a conservative rebellion in the ranks. He told lawmakers at a meeting on Wednesday that he hasn't spoken to McConnell in two weeks, Politico reported.
For the time being, Boehner's team is considering a few options, according to Politico.
One plan is to approve a one- to two-week stopgap funding bill along with a request for a formal negotiation between the House's bill and the Senate's bill.
House leaders are also considering a plan to link DHS funding to the outcome of a court case
in Texas, in which a federal judge has already suspended the president's orders that would have allowed tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to apply for temporary amnesty starting last Wednesday.
Boehner is playing his cards close to his chest as he tries to maintain unity in the caucus and preserve his political capital by sending a signal that he is standing his ground and not going down without a fight.
So far, his strategy appears to be paying off.
"John Boehner appears to have listened to the American people and also have listened to those who were doubtful whether we wanted to vote for him or not," conservative Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador
"He made us certain promises that he is going to fight on conservative grounds and so far he's kept them."
The tension between McConnell and Boehner is not new, Politico said, but has become pronounced with the advent of the Republican-controlled Congress.
The immigration fight seems to have put more distance between the men in recent weeks, Politico reported.
Part of the dynamic is caused by the differing — and somewhat conflicting — pressures the two men face, according to The Hill
. Boehner is under ongoing pressure to placate conservatives while McConnell has his eye on maintaining a majority in 2016.
"I guess you could be criticized for working too closely with the Senate, or you could be criticized for not working closely enough," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told Politico when asked about Boehner. "You lose either way."
But colleagues insist that the two work well together despite their divergent styles.
"Mitch is more disciplined than anybody I know in terms of keeping his cards close to the vest. He's willing to say something no matter how many times, until he gets the response that he wants," a GOP colleague who has served in both chambers told The Hill. "Boehner is more emotional, more responsive. He's more spontaneous."
The time frame for the Senate's vote remains unclear, but debate could last through the weekend particularly if conservative senators choose to dig their heels in. Delays would further impact Boehner's plan to send a bill back to the Senate with revisions.
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