House Speaker John A. Boehner refused to back down Thursday from the shutdown showdown and accused Senate Democrats of using Homeland Security funding as “blackmail” to protect President Obama’s deportation amnesty.
When questioned at his weekly press conference about how he would handle the “clean” funding bill coming from Senate, Mr. Boehner puckered his lips and made kissing sounds.
“It’s a kiss,” explained the Ohio Republican, who is under intense pressure from Democrats to relent in the funding standoff. “When I make a decision, I’ll let you know.”
Despite the levity, tension remained high on Capitol Hill with current funding for the Department of Homeland Security set to run out Friday.
“It is outrageous that Senate Democrats are using Homeland Security funding for blackmail to protect the actions of the president, when the president himself said he didn’t have the authority to do this,” Mr. Boehner said.
He repeatedly noted the 22 times that Mr. Obama claimed that he did not have the authority to change immigration law before he took the action in November, moving to grant legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to more than 4 million illegal immigrants.
“The Congress of the United States cannot look the other way and act like it didn’t happen,” Mr. Boehner said. “The courts aren’t looking the other way. This is a violation of our constitution. It’s a violation of the balance of powers in our constitution and it needs to be addressed and we’re doing it.”
Democrats have insisted that immigration should be debated separately and that Republicans are jeopardizing American lives by putting the Homeland Security funding at risk.
Senate Democrats on Wednesday ended their filibuster of the House-passed funding bill after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, agreed that measures blocking the president’s immigration actions would be stripped from the legislation.
The deal included a vote on separate legislation against Mr. Obama’s deportation amnesty. But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said his party will filibuster that bill until the Homeland Security funding is signed by the president.
Mr. Reid also demanded that the House pass the clean funding bill and warned that he would not negotiate if House Republicans amend the bill.
“We are not going to be part of their petty games,” he told reporters at an earlier press conference at the Capitol.