Posted on December 3, 2014

House Republicans Ready Plan to Avoid a Government Shutdown

Ashley Parker and Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times, December 3, 2014

House Republicans made progress on Tuesday steering some of their most conservative members away from a course that could shut down the government next week, a prospect that would badly damage the party as it prepares to take control of Congress in January.

Though the outcome remained unpredictable, Speaker John A. Boehner and his deputies were already counting votes for a two-part plan that they presented in a closed-door meeting in the Capitol.

The first step would be to allow a largely symbolic vote on legislation to dismantle President Obama’s executive action last month that delayed the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants. The second would be to fund the government through the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2015, except for agencies that spend money to enforce Mr. Obama’s immigration action, like the Department of Homeland Security.

Congress would then revisit funding for those agencies early next year when Republicans are in control of both the House and the Senate and in a stronger position.


House Republicans, however, are likely to lose enough conservative members that they will need at least some Democratic votes to pass their spending bill. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, has yet to decide whether to free her members to support it.

Drew Hammill, communications director for Ms. Pelosi, said, “We’re not inclined to support anything that diminishes the president’s legal authority to act on immigration.”

The resolution to undo the president’s action, however, would largely be a way for House Republicans to vent their displeasure, and could come as early as Thursday. Representative Ted Yoho of Florida, who came up with the plan, acknowledged that his measure would be a “symbolic message” if Senate Democrats did not take up his resolution–something Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and the majority leader, has said he is not going to do.


Then, House Republicans would vote next week on legislation to fund almost all of the government through September 2015, but use a short-term measure known as a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security, the agency primarily responsible for overseeing the administration’s immigration policy, only into March. {snip}


A complicating factor, however, is that the primary agency responsible for carrying out the president’s executive action, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, is financed entirely through fees collected from immigration applications and therefore cannot be defunded in the appropriations process.

Republicans seemed to acknowledge that there was little they could do to stop the president. Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Boehner said his conference seemed to realize that options were limited until next month.

“I think they understand that it’s going to be difficult to take meaningful action as long as we have Democratic control in the Senate,” he said.


Some conservatives, however, are likely to vote against the spending bill because they believe it does not go far enough. They say they would prefer a measure to fund the entire government on a short-term basis so that they can pass a spending plan early next year shaped by Republican majorities.


Many of the more conservative House members have been pushing for an aggressive response to the president, like a censure vote or cutting off funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans for the most part on Tuesday said that would not happen.

But there were still many conservative Republicans who were openly dismissive of the leadership’s package. “I would vote no because I don’t think you fund any unconstitutional action, even if it’s over a short period of time,” said Representative Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas.