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Obama attacks Boehner on immigration reform

President Barack Obama is calling out John Boehner for not bringing comprehensive immigration reform up for a vote in the House last year.

“It’s very simple: The Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, refused to call the bill,” Obama said in response to a question at an immigration town hall hosted by MSNBC’s José Diaz-Balart at Florida International University in Miami. “Had he called the bill, the overwhelming majority of Democrats and a handful of Republicans would have provided a majority in order to get that done.”

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Obama also addressed remarks by Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush last week criticizing the president for overstepping his executive authority on immigration, suggesting that he talk to Boehner.

“I appreciate Mr. Bush being concerned about immigration reform,” Obama said. “I would suggest that what he do is talk to the speaker of the House and the members of his party.”

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh chimed in on Wednesday, saying that Obama and Bush think similarly when it comes to immigration issues.

“I mean, to Jeb and Obama there’s no such thing as an illegal immigrant,” he told listeners, according to a transcript. “They’re just people that want to be Americans, and that’s great. Calling them ‘illegal’ is unkind and it misstates who they are, and it stigmatizes them, and it’s a very, very discriminatory thing to do, plus it’s mean.”

The transcript was posted with the headline: “Do Obama and Jeb share a worldview?

Limbaugh has not yet endorsed a presidential Republican candidate, but has repeatedly praised possible contender Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, calling him the “blueprint” for a GOP win in 2016.

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Boehner vs. McConnell

Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid are ready to put an end to Capitol Hill’s latest drama and fund the Department of Homeland Security.

There’s just one problem: Speaker John Boehner.

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The Senate majority and minority leaders cut a deal that did not have Boehner’s blessing, sources say, and now the speaker is weighing whether to go down without a fight. House Republican leaders are strongly considering amending the Senate’s “clean” DHS funding bill and dumping it back on McConnell’s doorstep. That would complicate the fraught negotiations on the eve of a funding deadline for the domestic security agency and illustrate a new level of dissonance between the top two Republican leaders, according to multiple lawmakers and aides involved in the deliberations.

The discussions on whether to accept a Senate plan, which would fund DHS through September and allow President Barack Obama’s immigration policies to stand, are still in their early phases. And Boehner may ultimately back down if he runs out of time. But the fact that Boehner is initially distancing himself from the emerging bipartisan Senate deal underscores his conundrum — and the stiff challenge confronting the new Republican Congress in attempting to appease tea party conservatives and an uncompromising White House.

Boehner and his leadership team are mulling several different options, and the situation is very fluid. One is to approve a one- to two-week stopgap funding bill, alongside a request for a formal negotiation between the House’s bill — which would stop Obama’s unilateral immigration policies — and the Senate’s proposal, which would not change the president’s executive actions.

Another alternative House leaders are weighing is to tie DHS funding to the outcome of a court fight over Obama’s 2014 decision to shield roughly 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. A federal district judge in Texas blocked the Obama policy, but the administration is seeking an emergency stay and an appeal of the ruling.

The House GOP’s next move wouldn’t necessarily shut down DHS, but it could prolong the process.

Boehner is playing a game of political survival. Most of his inner circle knows that the House will be forced to swallow a clean DHS funding bill at some point. But if the speaker wants to keep conservatives from launching a rebellion, it may be too early to capitulate. Boehner is aware of the perilous situation he’s facing — which is why, in private conversations with lawmakers, he’s telling them to “stay tuned” without tipping his hand on his next move.

Speaking to his caucus Wednesday, Boehner said he hadn’t spoken to McConnell in two weeks, an apparent attempt to distance himself from the Senate GOP leader’s plan. It seemed to highlight what will likely be an unfolding dynamic in the coming Congress, particularly over fiscal matters: The Senate will be forced to cut deals on politically toxic issues, and Boehner will ultimately be forced to accept them in order to avoid potential crises.

McConnell, meanwhile, has turned into one of the most loathed figures among far-right House conservatives. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said the Kentucky Republican has given up and “tipped over his king.” And Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, the leader of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said McConnell’s advancing of a clean bill is “disappointing.”

The Boehner vs. McConnell dynamic is not new, but it is more pronounced in the new Republican-controlled Congress. It’s fueled by that fact that House conservatives are eager to push an aggressive agenda but are running into institutional roadblocks in the Senate, where six Democrats are needed to break a filibuster. The two leaders have long kept each other abreast of their plans, but during this immigration showdown, they appear to be operating on separate tracks. They did meet for 40 minutes on Wednesday, after McConnell had made his move on a legislative strategy.

While discussions between the two men have been sporadic in recent weeks, their aides, who insist Boehner and McConnell have a good relationship, still interact daily.

Making Boehner’s plight more challenging is the uncompromising position of Senate Democrats and the White House. Reid (D-Nev.) has said his caucus would not accept any changes to the Senate’s proposed standalone bill to fund DHS, which is expected to be approved by that chamber imminently.

“I guess you could be criticized for working too closely with the Senate, or you could be criticized for not working closely enough,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) when asked about Boehner. “You lose either way.”

When the Senate will actually vote on its plan is still unclear. Given the time constraints, McConnell will need cooperation from all 100 senators in order to remove the immigration provisions from the original House plan and approve a clean funding bill. Any individual senator can drag out debate through the weekend.

While the bill will almost certainly eventually pass the Senate, conservative Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and others have furiously objected to McConnell’s effort, signaling that the funding fight could go down to the wire.

Any delay would complicate Boehner’s plan to send the bill with changes back to the Senate.

If he’s faced with no other choice, Boehner’s leadership colleagues believe they will eventually be able to move the Senate’s bill through their chamber in order to avoid a DHS shutdown.

Top Republicans were heartened when, during a closed meeting Wednesday, not a single conservative suggested Republicans shut down the agency, attendees said. Many were more upset with a Republican-written education bill, which is scheduled for a vote Thursday.

If Boehner is forced to relent on DHS funding — which he almost certainly will be — he will tell Republicans that the House stood firm but Senate Republicans were unable to deliver.

McConnell and Reid privately decided Tuesday to advance a $39.7 billion DHS funding bill free from provisions that targeted Obama’s immigration policies. McConnell agreed to relent after Reid’s caucus filibustered a House-passed bill on four separate occasions, demanding that Republicans strip the immigration provisions or risk a shutdown of the department. The Senate opened debate on the House bill Wednesday, with senators preparing to strip the plan of all immigration riders.

At the same time, the Senate is moving separately on a bill drafted by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, which would block Obama’s November immigration move but is not tied to the funding process — and will likely lack the votes to override a veto.

Reid said Wednesday that Democrats would not allow the Collins plan to come forward for a debate unless the DHS is fully funded. House Republicans are weighing whether they should pass a short-term continuing resolution for DHS until Reid relents and allows the Collins plan to advance, sources say.

Emerging from a tense closed-door Senate GOP lunch, Republican senators signaled they were ready to move on from a fight that has paralyzed the new GOP Congress in just its second month in power.

“There are some that object,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), “but I hope that we have convinced them that this is not a good idea — right now — to shut down the Department of Homeland Security.”

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Rep. Boehner: House Has ‘Done Its Job’ On Homeland Security Funding

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Wednesday: The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president's overreach on immigration. We're waiting for the Senate to do their job.i

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Wednesday: “The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration. We’re waiting for the Senate to do their job.”

Susan Walsh/AP

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Susan Walsh/AP

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Wednesday: The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president's overreach on immigration. We're waiting for the Senate to do their job.

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Wednesday: “The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration. We’re waiting for the Senate to do their job.”

Susan Walsh/AP

Update at 6 p.m. ET: Senate To Move Forward On Vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday afternoon that they would move forward with a vote on a so-called “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, meaning it would have no policy provisions attached targeting President Obama’s immigration policy.

“I’ve spoken with the Democratic leader and my colleagues on the Republican side and commit to offering an amendment to the House bill to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security while addressing the president’s executive actions on a separate, adjacent track,” McConnell told reporters.

The Senate voted 98-2 to start debate on the DHS funding bill, with just a few days to act before Homeland Security funding expires on Friday. But it could take days for the bill to pass the Senate if any senator chooses to delay the bill’s passage.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has told reporters he sees little gain in delaying the DHS bill’s passage by a day or so. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a staunch opponent of the president’s immigration actions, declined to say whether he planned to gum up the works.

If the “clean” bill passes the Senate, it would then go to the House, where its fate is uncertain. A number of conservatives have vowed to reject any funding bill that does not include provisions defunding President Obama’s immigration actions. Additionally, House Speaker John Boehner has not said whether he would put the bill to a vote.

Our original post follows:

House Speaker John Boehner had a message for the Senate today: The ball’s in your court.

Speaking after a closed-door Republican conference meeting on Wednesday, Boehner repeatedly insisted that the House had done its job, and that now the Senate must act in order to stave off a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security. The department is slated to run out of money in just three days.

“I’m waiting for the Senate to act,” Boehner told reporters. “The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration. We’re waiting for the Senate to do their job.”

Just a short while before Boehner spoke to reporters, he addressed members of his party and told them that he had not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in two weeks, according to several lawmakers who were in the room.

Asked about his conversations with McConnell, Boehner would not clarify, only saying that the two staffs had been “talking back and forth” but that “in the end, the Senate has got to act.”

Boehner’s comments come one day after McConnell indicated that he would bring a so-called “clean” DHS funding bill to the floor for a vote, along with a separate bill that would target President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration policy. But Boehner himself has not weighed in on the merits of the McConnell plan — only saying that Senate Democrats are impeding progress and that the plan appeared to be a hard sell in the House.

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks declared “there’s no way on God’s green earth” he would vote for a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security unless it included language defunding Obama’s executive actions on immigration. He went so far as to say that the so-called “clean” bill McConnell has said he’d agree to a vote on wasn’t actually clean.

“The Senate is not sending over a clean bill. A clean bill is a bill that protects the United States Constitution and stops illegal actions of the executive branch as reflected by two different federal court decisions,” he said. “That is a clean bill. A dirty bill is one that protects illegal conduct.”

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said “no one wants a shutdown,” but “the plan, as far as I’m concerned is our bill.”

“The question you’ve got to ask Democrats is, how can you insist on language in a bill that a federal judge says is unlawful? That makes absolutely no sense,” he said.

Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon went so far as to say that Republicans weren’t running the show in the Senate.

“The voters believe that in November Harry Reid was going to be dethroned and the Senate was going to be controlled by Republicans,” Salmon told reporters. “Right now, Harry Reid’s still running the Senate. That’s a sad day.”

In the Senate, Democratic leader Harry Reid said he would not support McConnell’s plan without Boehner’s guarantee that a clean DHS funding bill could pass the House.

“You know we have to make sure that people understand the bicameral nature of this Congress that we serve in,” Reid said Tuesday. “So to have Sen. McConnell just pass the ball over to the House isn’t going to do the trick. I’m waiting to hear from the speaker.”

If House and Senate lawmakers do not reach an agreement, tens of thousands of employees would be furloughed immediately. The rest, considered essential workers, would be expected to continue working without paychecks.

If the department shuts down, it would be the second time in 18 months. The entire federal government shut down for 16 days in October 2013.

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Boehner defends Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday challenged an assertion by the Obama administration that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress about nuclear negotiations with Iran would be destructive to U.S.-Israeli relations.

“The president’s national security advisor says it’s destructive for the prime minister of Israel to address the United States Congress. I couldn’t disagree more,” Boehner said at his weekly news conference.

“The American people and both parties in Congress have always stood with Israel and nothing, and no one, could get in the way,” the Republican leader said.

Boehner broke precedent by inviting the Israeli leader to address Congress without consulting the White House or Democratic lawmakers. President Barack Obama and other Democrats have accused Netanyahu and Republicans of injecting partisan politics into the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Tuesday’s speech will be the third by Netanyahu to a joint meeting of the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Britain’s World War Two prime minister Winston Churchill is the only other international leader to have done so three times.

Several Democrats have said they will skip the speech. Some said, like Obama, that it is inappropriate for Netanyahu to address the U.S. Congress just two weeks before Israeli elections. Others said they do not want a foreign leader weighing in on U.S. foreign affairs.

U.S. lawmakers could have an impact on the course of the nuclear talks. The Senate is due to vote within weeks on whether to impose extra sanctions on Iran. The White House has said this could harm the talks.

Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, said this week that it would be destructive to the U.S.-Israeli relationship to allow it to be reduced to a partisan political issue.

The White House said on Thursday that both Rice and Obama’s U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, would address the annual convention next week of the powerful pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC, where Netanyahu is also speaking.

Boehner expressed doubts about the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers as he defended the invitation to Netanyahu. “What is destructive in my view is making a bad deal that paves the way for a nuclear Iran. That’s destructive,” he said.

Boehner said it was important for the U.S. public to hear what Netanyahu has to say about the “grave threats” Israel faces. “I’m glad that most of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, will be there,” he said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Storey, Toni Reinhold)

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John Boehner scolds House members on dress code: "You know who you are"

This House is a mess, and John Boehner has had quite enough of it.

Boehner, the Republican House Speaker from Ohio, offered a sharp lesson in decorum to lawmakers on Wednesday, scolding them to stop bustling about the well of the chamber during speeches, stop taking photos during House business, and stop being late to votes, darn it!

Boehner also reminded members of the importance of wearing “appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House, however brief their appearance on the floor might be.”

He didn’t name names, but he didn’t have to. “You know who you are,” he said, sweeping a schoolmarm’s glare across the chamber as members chuckled.

“Following these basic standards of practice will foster an atmosphere of mutual and institutional respect and will insure against personal confrontation amongst individual members, between members, and the presiding officer,” the speaker concluded. “The chair appreciates the members’ attention to these matters.”

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Surprise! Republican Senator Rand Paul Praises Eric Holder On Drug Policy

Surprise! Republican Senator Rand Paul Praises Eric Holder On Drug Policy

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Speaking in Iowa on Friday, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) offered unexpected praise for outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. The Senator applauded Holder’s approach to drug enforcement policy. Specifically, Paul agreed that Holder was right to end support for letting police seize the assets of suspected drug dealers, who have not been charged with a crime. The Senator added that jailing people for “55 years for selling marijuana is obscene”.

The mention of 55 years was an apparent reference to Weldon Angelos, who was convicted of selling marijuana while in possession of a firearm in 2004. Mandatory minimum enhancements for possessing a firearm while selling drugs lead to the lengthy sentence, even though the gun was not brandished during the drug transactions, and the drug in question was simply marijuana.

Senator Paul, who is often very critical of the government, seems an unlikely person to defend Holder. Holder has served as Obama’s top federal law enforcement official since the President took office in 2009. During his tenure, Holder has frequently aroused the ire of conservatives. In this context, Senator Paul’s comments carry added weight by bridging the liberal-conservative divide.

Politics sometimes creates strange bedfellows. Rand Paul saying something positive about Obama’s chief law enforcement officer is a pretty unusual event, in the current polarized political environment. However, the realization that Rand Paul and Eric Holder can find common ground on pushing towards a more sane national marijuana policy does portend hope for eventually putting an end to the ill-conceived War on Drugs.

The prospects for reforming national drug policy are somewhat promising since the issue doesn’t fall strictly on partisan lines. A significant faction within both major parties seems willing to consider exploring changes to the nation’s drug laws. Voter passed experiments in Colorado and Washington, have demonstrated that marijuana legalization does not lead to economic collapse or moral ruin. Both states are doing just fine.

It should come as no surprise that the libertarian-leaning Rand Paul supports less draconian drugs laws. What is surprising is that he is willing to give somebody in the Obama administration credit for holding similar views. That small moment of recognition could be helpful in uniting members of both parties to put partisan politics aside, in order to work towards a saner drug policy for America. The incarceration model clearly isn’t working, and every step made to replace that model is a step forward.

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Conservatives have John Boehners back for now

Conservatives say John Boehner is finally doing something right — at least for now.

Some of the same GOP congressmen who begrudgingly reelected Boehner as speaker less than two months ago are praising the Ohio Republican now for his handling of the Department of Homeland Security standoff. The speaker, in their eyes, is holding strong by refusing to entertain a compromise that allows President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

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“John Boehner appears to have listened to the American people and also have listened to those who were doubtful whether we wanted to vote for him or not,” said Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). “He made us certain promises that he is going to fight on conservative grounds and so far he’s kept them.”

Labrador, a consistent critic of Boehner and founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, added: “I hope he continues to keep them.”

“So far” may be the operative words. With the Senate beginning to take action Wednesday to end the impasse, pressure on the speaker is about to intensify dramatically. Boehner is caught between competing imperatives of not allowing the anti-terrorism agency to shut down and foiling an immigration policy that conservatives loath.

Unlike past battles over funding, where conservatives worked to overhaul legislation hours or day before a bill was scheduled to hit the floor, conservative lawmakers said they are behind Boehner’s plan to put the onus to act on the Senate.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) offered similar early praise for Boehner, saying he has “held the ground, very admirably.”

”There is no plan in the House. We’re not going to act until the Senate does and we don’t know what they will” do, said Florida Republican Rep. John Mica.

Boehner has gone to great lengths since the speaker vote in January to reach out to the most hardline members of his conference. The Ohio Republican vowed to make a vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline one of the first priorities in the new Congress and has made a concerted effort to bring conservative members into policy debates early.

Members are still closely watching the Ohio Republican’s moves. Thirty lawmakers, led by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), sent a letter to House Leadership on Wednesday urging Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to stand firm.

The letter was singed by nearly a dozen of the caucus’ conservative leaders, including Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Ted Yoho of Florida, Walter Jones of North Carolina, and Martha Roby of Alabama.

“This letter should serve as a continued call to arms,” Duncan said. “The House has taken a strong stand with the American people for the rule of law and the importance of our Constitutional checks and balances. Congress must continue to stand firm against this President’s overreach.”

The House passed a funding bill earlier this month that would cut off funds for Obama’s executive orders on immigration within DHS. But the Senate has since filibustered similar legislation – a standstill that broke on Wednesday after Senate Democrats joined with Republicans to pass a procedural vote to begin reviewing a “clean” DHS funding bill.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and his conference blocked the Senate from advancing the House-passed legislation four times, prompting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put forward a clean funding bill.

Senate leaders are now hoping to craft a deal to send to the House ahead of the Friday deadline for DHS to run of out of money.

It’s unclear how the Senate plan will be received in the more staunchly conservative House, but there are signs it won’t get much traction.

A conservative House member, who asked to speak anonymously to discuss internal conversations, said his colleagues have been floating a number of alternatives since McConnell first proposed a clean funding bill. The Republican member suggested that fellow conservatives could support a short-term stop-gap funding measure for DHS to give members more time to negotiate. The lawmaker also said that House Republicans would likely back a bill that denied funding only for the part of DHS that enforces the president’s immigration directives.

Labrador said he hopes Republican leaders in the House and Senate will be able to craft a new bill from the two versions but added that GOP lawmakers are not willing to retreat from their pledge to stop Obama’s executive actions. And Franks said conservatives in House will likely only back a package if the final legislation “deals with the unconstitutional actions by the president.

Conservative lawmakers downplayed a rift between Republicans in the House and the Senate but said McConnell needs to work within the structure of the Senate to overcome any Democratic filibuster.

“I think it’ disappointing that the American people elected a Republican majority and apparently Harry Reid continues to decide what happens on the Senate floor,” Labrador said. “At some point the Republicans in the Senate need to stand up and say how are we going to use our rules to make sure that we can work on these issues.”

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) also said he’s disappointed with Senate Republicans.

“The voters believed in November that Harry Reid was going to be dethroned and the Senate was going to be run by Republicans,” Salmon said after a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday at which Boehner told lawmakers he hadn’t spoken with the majority leader in two weeks. “And I’m sad to say that hasn’t happened.”

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A monumental test for John Boehner

The House Republican leadership is privately telling rank-and-file lawmakers that they shouldn’t shut down the Department of Homeland Security, but they aren’t telling anyone how they will avoid a lapse in funding at the end of this week.

DHS funding runs out Friday evening, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told his GOP colleagues in a closed meeting Wednesday morning that he has not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in two weeks. And, more importantly, he declined to say whether he supported the Kentucky Republican’s efforts to fund the anti-terrorism agency without provisions that gut President Barack Obama’s unilateral actions to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

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“I’m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday morning. “I don’t know what the Senate is capable of passing. Until I see what they’re going to pass, no decision has been made on the House side.”

Asked if Congress would avoid a shutdown of DHS, Boehner repeated that he’s “waiting for the Senate to act.”

“The House has passed a bill to fund the department, it’s time for the Senate to do their job,” Boehner said.

One big roadblock may be easing in the Senate, where Democrats are now considering accepting McConnell’s offer to hold a vote on a DHS bill without immigration riders. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had initially demanded Tuesday that he first get assurances that the House would take up the bill.

While they aren’t making public their own strategy, key House Republican leadership aides and lawmakers privately said they were heartened by the response Wednesday morning to Boehner’s tone. Conservative Republicans are certainly angry that the Senate is willing to pass a so-called “clean” DHS funding bill, but the mood in the GOP conference wasn’t as negative as many expected. Not one House Republican stood up in the meeting urging the party to shut down the agency. Many took solace in a court ruling that blocked implementation of Obama’s change to the enforcement of immigration laws.

There’s no guarantee Boehner will take up the Senate’s plan if it passes the chamber. Republican aides are also discussing the possibility of a short-term funding bill that could keep the agency open for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. McConnell, meanwhile, is intent on avoiding a shutdown at nearly any cost.

Whatever path Boehner chooses will be heavily scrutinized. This week provides the speaker and his leadership team with their most serious test of this year, one that has major implications for the GOP the leaders’ political future.

Boehner and his top deputies, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, are beginning to figure out how deep their troops want to dig in.

Boehner — who has promised to fight the president “tooth and nail” — will have to gauge whether his conference is ready to follow McConnell and avoid a shutdown. Many of Boehner’s allies are worried about both the political and the policy implications of shutting down DHS, an agency that President George W. Bush created in the wake of 9/11.

McCarthy, who spent the fall promising to avoid precisely these kind of showdowns, is facing one just 50 days into the new Congress. And Scalise’s campaign for whip was predicated on the fact that he could wrangle unruly conservatives — and the majority of House Republicans think it’s high time he start doing so.

The real question for that leadership trio is whether the majority of the 245 Republicans in the House are willing to let DHS funding lapse, or whether the agitation is small enough to allow a clean bill to pass.

Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, said he would not vote for a funding bill without amendments to change immigration policy but neatly laid out what’s at stake.

“There’s a couple of things to think about,” Flores said in an interview Tuesday evening. “No. 1 is, if you had a clean DHS bill, I’m assuming most of the Democrats would vote for it. And on the other hand, one of the things you have to think about is do you vote against homeland security. That’s one of the questions.”

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John Boehner Scolds House Members on Dress Code, Decorum

Speaker John Boehner Wednesday dressed down his House colleagues for their behavior on the House floor—including reminding them to dress in appropriate business attire, refrain from taking photos and videos during proceedings, and even showing up to vote on time.

Boehner, in an unusual lecture from the House rostrum, did not point a finger at any specific colleague for breaches these principles.

But as for inappropriate attire, he said, “You know who you are,” prompting some laughter from members.

A spokesman for the Ohioan did not respond to a request to what specifically prompted the lecture to House members.

In his remarks, Boehner said that he “wishes to reiterate reiterate the announcement of March 25, 2014 concerning floor practice.”

“Members should periodically rededicate themselves to the core principles of proper parliamentary practice that are so essential at maintaining order and deliberacy here in the House,” said Boehner.

He called on colleagues to “refrain from trafficking in the well (of the chamber) when another — including the presiding officer — is addressing the House.”

Also, he said,”Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House, however brief their appearance of the floor may be.”

And along with telling House members should refrain from engaging in still photography or audio or video recording in the chamber (which he said detract from the official proceedings) Boehner chided some for being late for votes.

“Members should attempt to come to the floor within the 15 minutes as prescribed within the ringing of the bill,” he said, adding “this has been an ongoing problem.”

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Morning Plum: Poor John Boehner is helpless in face of conservative rage

That’s what happened last time, and the time before that, and the “resolution” ended up being that Boehner defied conservatives and allowed Democrats to help him avert the crisis. Perhaps this time isn’t actually different at all, and this is what will happen again.

The fact that Boehner has the mere option of passing clean funding with the help of a lot of Democrats is rarely even mentioned. You can read article after article about this whole showdown and not be informed of that basic fact. Thus, the actual reason we’re stuck in this crisis — Boehner is delaying the moment where he does pass something with Dems for as long as possible — goes oddly unmentioned. Yet recent history suggests that Boehner himself knows this is how it will end, and that all of this drama won’t change the outcome.


* McCONNELL BEGS GOP NOT TO SHUT DOWN HOMELAND SECURITY: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to get his colleagues in the House to agree to hold two separate votes as a way out of the impasse. This quote from him is telling:

“Do you want to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year so we’re fully up and running and capable of dealing with all the threats that we have around the world, including those against us here at home, and would you also like to express your disagreement with the president’s overreach last November?” Mr. McConnell said. “This gives us an opportunity to do both.”

But conservatives don’t want Republicans to merely express disagreement. They want them to do whatever it takes to block Obama’s lawlessness, holding firm until Democrats finally cave (never mind whether that would ever actually happen). It’s telling that McConnell casts this as an avenue for mere expression, though.

 * VULNERABLE GOP SENATORS WORRIED ABOUT HOMELAND SECURITY FIGHT: Politico has an interesting report on a fight behind closed doors between GOP Senators over McConnell’s push for two separate votes:

According to four senators at the lunch session, a frustrated Sen. Jeff Sessions angrily dismissed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan, arguing that his party should be prepared for an all-out battle with Democrats to ratchet up public pressure and force President Barack Obama to drop his immigration policies. But Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican who could face a tough reelection next year, sharply countered that McConnell’s plan was the only option to not hamper law enforcement agencies that rely on money from the Department of Homeland Security.

Which raises a question: How do all the GOP Senators up for re-election in 2016 in states carried by Obama feel about this fight, given that Republicans could take the blame for shutting down Homeland Security, all in the name of forcing maximum deportations?

 * QUOTE OF THE DAY, DEFINITION-OF-INSANITY EDITION: With the GOP Congress heading towards a shutdown, it’s worth recalling this priceless quote from GOP Rep. Charlie Dent:

“Week one, we had a Speaker election that did not go as well as a lot of us would have liked. Week two, we got into a big fight over deporting children, something that a lot of us didn’t want to have a discussion about. Week three, we are now talking about rape and incest and reportable rapes and incest for minors. … I just can’t wait for week four.”

Well, we’re now seeing the fruits of week four, Congressman!

* GOP MULLS SHORT TERM FUNDING FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Roll Call reminds us that House Republicans do have the option, which they are mulling, of funding DHS in the short term, to buy some time to keep up the fight against Obama’s executive actions.

But, a reminder: If Republicans think that will create enough time for the courts to block the actions and bail them out of this jam, they are probably mistaken.

* BATTLE OVER DEPORTATIONS HEADING TO APPEALS COURT: The Texas District Court judge who temporarily blocked Obama’s executive deportation relief for millions has now signaled that he will likely reject the administration’s request for an emergency stay of his injunction. That’s not surprising, given his previously expressed views on immigration.

Nor does this really change the big picture: This judge has still not issued a final ruling yet on the Constitutionality of Obama’s actions, and presuming he rules against them, we’re then heading to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and we may not know for months whether the executive actions stand.

* WALKER-MENTUM IN IOWA!!! A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is surging among Iowa Republican caucus goers: He leads the GOP field among them with 25 percent, to 13 percent for Rand Paul and 10 percent for Jeb Bush. The poll was taken from February 16-23, right when the big fracas over Rudy Giuliani’s claim that Obama doesn’t love America (which was made at a Walker event) unfolded.

This obviously didn’t hurt Walker among these voters, 45 percent of whom self-identify as “very conservative” in the poll.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined an invitation to hold a closed-door session with Democratic senators during his visit to Washington next month, saying such a meeting would “compound the misperception of partisanship” surrounding his planned address to Congress.

Thank goodness for that. Now the speech — which was arranged by House Republicans to undercut a chief Democratic foreign policy objective, a nuclear deal with Iran, with no consultation with Obama — will not have any whiff of partisanship about it whatsoever.

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