Lawmakers return Monday to the Capitol without a clear path out of the shutdown showdown over homeland security funds, with Senate Democrats resisting any negotiations and House Republicans determined to block President Obama’s deportation amnesty.
Congress bought itself a weeklong reprieve by passing a last-minute funding extension that avoided a shutdown last weekend, but the new Friday deadline hasn’t altered the impasse.
After rank-and-file House Republicans rebelled last week against their leaders’ strategy, Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday that his troops were united in the fight to defund Mr. Obama’s immigration actions, if not on the tactics.
“Remember what’s causing this, it’s the president of the United States overreaching and it’s not just on immigration,” Mr. Boehner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The Ohio Republican pointed to the 38 times Mr. Obama unilaterally changed the Obamacare law, though it was Mr. Obama’s immigration moves that led to the funding crisis for the Homeland Security Department.
“So the frustration in the country, represented through the frustration of our members, has people scared to death that the president is running the country right off the cliff,” he said.
House Republicans broke ranks over the leadership’s plan to pass a three-week funding bill to prolong the fight and avoid a shutdown of the department that night. Enough GOP lawmakers joined with Democrats to kill the bill in a startling rebuke to Mr. Boehner.
The Senate later sent a one-week funding measure that the House overwhelmingly approved just two hours before a midnight shutdown deadline.
“We do have some members who disagree from time to time over the tactics that we decide to employ,” Mr. Boehner said. “But remember that Republicans are united in this idea that the president has far exceeded his constitutional authority and we all want to do things to stop the president from his illicit activity.”
Indeed, House Republican leaders and rank-and-file conservatives were in rare agreement about not backing down.
Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative’s newly formed Freedom Caucus, threw cold water on the inside-the-beltway chatter about the GOP getting ready to agree to Democrats’ demands.
“That’s not going to happen,” the Ohio Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Mr. Jordan said his party would instead redouble its effort to rally voters against Mr. Obama’s actions, which seek to grant legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to more than 4 million illegal immigrations.
“We haven’t made the case strong enough. We know it’s unconstitutional and we know it’s unfair,” he said.
With a new deadline looming, House Republicans hope to push Senate Democrats into negotiations on a funding bill that includes anti-amnesty measures.
However, Senate Democrats remained adamant that the House pass a “clean” bill.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that her party would never compromise on the immigration cause.
“We want a clean bill. We have passed, taken votes on a clean bill,” she said. “I see nothing else happening, other than a clean bill.”
Mrs. Feinstein blamed the stalemate on Republicans, who she referred to as a “minority,” despite the GOP having majority control of both the House and Senate.
“What I have seen over the last few years is a growing need of a minority to impose their view, regardless of what the situation is,” she said. “I think most of us are accustomed to sitting down, we work out a compromise, which is not a dirty word, because, in a two-party system, you have to, if you’re going to make progress. Otherwise, you have stasis or gridlock. And so we have had more gridlock.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, last week repeatedly vowed not to go to conference to reconcile the House-passed bill with anti-amnesty measures and the Senate-passed bill without policy riders.
Senate Democrats will get to vote Monday on whether to allow a conference committee. They can block it by denying the 60 votes need to consider forming the committee.
Senate Republicans, who have a 54-seat majority, surrendered last week to demands for a clean bill in order to get Democrats to end their filibuster of the House-passed legislation.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested that Senate Republicans invoke the “nuclear option” of changing the chamber’s rules to stop filibusters, a tactic Senate Democrats used to push through confirmation of Mr. Obama’s nominees when they controlled the chamber.
Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, said the move would hardly be “nuclear” because the anti-amnesty measure had the support of 57 of the chambers 100 senators.
“That is not nuclear when 57 percent of the American representation says it’s wrong,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That’s not in the constitution. I think they should change the rules.