WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner took to blowing kisses instead of answering questions Thursday about what his chamber will do to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security. The speaker is in a tough spot, and at his weekly press conference, the questions about what he’s going to do next were relentless.
“Mitch McConnell has said exactly what he is going to do,” a reporter said. “You know exactly what you are going to get. It’s going to be a clean DHS funding bill. Are you going to put it on the floor? Are you going to kill it? Are you going to let them vote on it? Have you even had this discussion?’
Another reporter then asked in puzzlement what exactly Boehner had done. “That was just a kiss, that’s all,” he said, shrugging.
It was one of the most unusual moments in a series of press conferences with lawmakers trying to figure out what they’re going to do before Friday’s deadline when DHS funding expires. Boehner has found himself the center of attention.
Republican lawmakers last year funded DHS only through February to set up a battle over the White House's immigration policies allowing some undocumented immigrants to obtain temporary work permits. The House recently passed a funding bill that also includes provisions to reverse all of President Barack Obama’s immigration executive orders. The bill faltered in the Senate. Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid struck a deal to move a bill to fund DHS that eliminated the immigration provisions. It now must gain House approval.
But Boehner won’t say whether that bill will get a vote. Or if he’ll amend it again and ensure that DHS shuts down this weekend. Boehner is facing strong pressure from conservatives in the House to keep up the fight against Obama’s executive orders. He could face a full rebellion if he doesn’t continue to hold the fight.
“When I see what the Senate actually passes, then we’ll know,” Boehner said.