House Republican leaders and incoming Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia are floating a plan to fund immigration-related activities separately from an all-encompassing government spending bill — and for a shorter length of time.
It's a plan still very much in flux. However, if the Republicans want to go through with it, they had better have enough of their own members ready and able to vote "yes," because Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has it made it clear she won't be offering assistance from her side of the aisle.
On Tuesday afternoon, the California Democrat slammed the emerging gambit known as a "Cromnibus" — part short-term continuing resolution, or CR, and part long-term omnibus — saying it would be tantamount to a "partial" government shutdown.
“House Democrats have fought against Republican attempts to shut down the government," the California Democrat said in a written statement. "Now, House Republicans are seeking to disguise their efforts, threatening our national security in order to undermine the President’s clear legal authority. We will not be enablers to a Republican Government Shutdown, partial or otherwise.” Earlier on Tuesday, another Democratic leadership aide told CQ Roll Call that the proposal would "just waste more time."
"If [Republicans] want to debate immigration policy next year, they can debate the Senate's comprehensive bill or bring their own bills to the floor," the aide said. "There's plenty of opportunity to debate this issue without an earlier expiration for just one piece of the government."
House GOP lawmakers are split on how best to oppose the president's unilateral action on immigration, with many members looking to connect the the Republican response to a piece of must-pass legislation, like a government funding bill.
Their options, however, are stymied by procedural hurdles, like a prohibition against legislating in an appropriations measure, and the fact that Obama would veto any bill that scales back his recent unilateral action to defer deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants.
Republican leadership is confronted with a challenge of finding a plan that will satisfy the most conservative members of the rank-and-file but not risk a government shutdown when the current stopgap spending bill expires on Dec. 11.
This plan to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year while putting a nearer-term sunset date on immigration-related activities and agencies could do the trick, but it's not clear whether it has enough Republican support to pass without Democrats' help.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of the party's most vocal opponents of immigration overhaul legislation, recently derided explanations for not being able to defund the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services through the appropriations process as "convenient."