Washington (AFP) – U.S. House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans he will allow a vote on a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill Tuesday, overriding conservative efforts to block President Barack Obama’s immigration plan.
Senior aides in the room confirmed that Boehner told members at his party’s Tuesday morning caucus that he was prepared to swiftly put a clean DHS funding bill to a vote, effectively ending the congressional battle that had threatened to shut down a critical agency designed to protect Americans.
It would likely pass easily because such a measure would earn support from Democrats who are united in seeking to secure DHS funding without amendments that would repeal President Barack Obama’s controversial executive orders on immigration from last November.
“As you’ve heard me say a number of times, the House has done its job by passing legislation to fund DHS and block the president’s executive actions on immigration,” Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans, according to a person in the room.
“Unfortunately, the fight was never won in the other chamber.”
Boehner invoked the threat of terrorism as a rationale for ending the fight and funding DHS through the end of the fiscal year on September 30, saying pushing the agency into shutdown would be a mistake.
“With more active threats coming into the homeland, I don’t believe that’s an option,” he said, according to a source.
“Imagine if, God forbid, another terrorist attack hits the United States.”
Boehner, who has been under intense pressure from a small band of far-right conservatives to stand firm and insist on linking the two issues, ultimately retreated from those demands when it became clear there was no path to victory on the issue.
The House passed a measure attaching the immigration rollback to DHS funding, but Democrats blocked it repeatedly in the Senate.
Congress must fund DHS by Friday or the agency will run out of money, although in the event of a shutdown most border personnel, airport screeners and Secret Service agents would remain on the job without pay.
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)