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Earnest Doubts Immigration Shutdown Showdown

Members of United We Dream are cut out of bindings by D.C. Police during a protest in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The White House doubts Republicans will threaten to shut down the government to block President Barack Obama's immigration executive order planned for after the midterm elections.  

That executive action — expected to include what amounts to temporary amnesty and work permits for up to 5 million people — wasn't delayed because of political concerns about the impact on the elections, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest contended.  

Instead,Earnest said the concern was more about the post-election dynamic should Republicans win. "The concern would be that they would cite their opposition to immigration reform as a reason for their success. That is not a storyline that the president wanted — or that anybody here wanted to contribute to," Earnest said.  

Earnest downplayed election concerns.  

"I don't think in the vast majority of congressional races that it is a particularly wise or popular decision to say that you're (against) common-sense, bipartisan immigration reform," he said. "... This is less an issue about trying to dictate or influence the outcome of the elections and more about making sure that the immigration issue is not a casualty of post-election political analysis. And that's — that is a complicated case to make, but it is important to protecting the political viability of an issue that the president thinks is a top domestic priority, and that's immigration reform."  

Asked about the possibility of Republicans retaliating, Earnest said he would be "surprised" if they threatened a shutdown fight.  

"I don't think that there are many analysts that believe that the political standing of the Republican Party was enhanced by shutting down the government. So I would be surprised ... if Republican leaders chose to pursue that path again. At the same time, I also heard Republican leaders, in the aftermath of the last budget showdown, indicate that they would never again hold hostage the full faith and credit of the United States of America, and I take those leaders at their word when they say that no one should do that."  

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Topics: immigration imgr