Speaker John A. Boehner is daring his Senate counterparts on both sides of the aisle to advance the House-passed Department of Homeland Security funding bill that contains language blocking President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.
"We won this fight in the House; now the fight must be won in the United States Senate," the Ohio Republican said at a Tuesday morning press conference, just hours before the other chamber is scheduled to take a procedural vote on moving forward with the measure. "It's time for Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats to listen to the American people to win this fight." Chances of passage of the House's DHS spending bill are slim, with nearly all Democrats planning to vote "no."
But Boehner is exerting pressure on the more moderate Senate Democrats to vote with Republicans to advance debate, in particular those who just months ago were publicly slamming Obama for independently granting stays of deportation to huge numbers of undocumented immigrants without the consent of Congress.
"There's a whole host of Democrats who issued press releases criticizing the president's executive overreach," Boehner said, name-checking Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. "Was it all talk?"
Republicans are also closely watching two of their own — Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas — to make sure they don't derail the legislative process as they have in the past on immigration, health care and other matters.
"It's time for Sen. Cruz and Sen. Sessions, and Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats, to stand together with the American people and block the president's actions," Boehner said, giving voice to the mounting frustration within the House Republican Conference that two members of the Senate could so often gum up the works — against the wishes of many in the party. While Boehner was setting the stage for the showdown later in the day across the Capitol, he was not interested in discussing next steps should the Senate, as expected, fail to reach the threshold to proceed, and lawmakers would be forced to consider whether to move on a "clean" DHS funding bill to prevent an agency shutdown when current spending expires at the end of the month.
"Why don't we wait until the United States Senate acts and then we can decide what the next steps are?" Boehner said during the brief question-and-answer portion of the GOP leadership press conference Tuesday. "I don't know what they're gonna do."
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