The impasse over funding the Department of Homeland Security may soon come to an end after House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday he would allow the House to vote on fully funding the agency without riders to cancel President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The speaker originally said he would announce the move in a 10 a.m. news conference, but the event was canceled.
In a closed-door meeting with GOP colleagues, Boehner referenced the Texas court decision that put a hold on Obama’s executive actions last month as rationale for abandoning the fight on immigration through Congress. “I am as outraged and frustrated as you at the lawless and unconstitutional actions of this president,” the speaker said at the meeting, according to Politico. “I believe this decision – considering where we are – is the right one for this team, and the right one for this country. The good news is that the president’s executive action has been stopped, for now. This matter will continue to be litigated in the courts, where we have our best chance of winning this fight.”
Boehner’s capitulation to allow a vote on a long-term funding bill for DHS gives into pressure from Democrats and his own party to drop the fight against Obama's immigration executive orders. The move by Boehner is sure to enrage the right flank of his caucus, which has been pushing him to be more aggressive against Obama and hold the line even while Senate Republicans were willing to give in. But after repeated rejections from the Senate, Boehner had run out of options.
Republicans wanted to hold up DHS funding because the agency is responsible for enforcing immigration laws. The GOP originally said it would approve funding only until the end of the fiscal year if Obama’s executive actions on immigration were rolled back.
On Friday, the House passed a one-week extension of DHS funding to avert a shutdown and allow additional time to work out a deal. House Republicans had hoped to pressure Senate Democrats into a conference, the process of negotiating differences between the two chambers. But the Senate quickly refused that plan.
Questions will now begin to grow louder over whether Boehner will be able to hold on to the speaker's gavel. There was strong opposition from the far right when he took the office again in January. But given the rules of the House, it will be very difficult for opponents to remove him. Doing so would require support from Democrats, who will see any other option for the role as much worse than Boehner.