With less than two days to go before a Homeland Security Department shutdown, John Boehner isn’t blinking.
“We passed a bill to fund the department six weeks ago. Six weeks ago!” the House speaker said during a press conference Thursday. “It’s time for the Senate to act. How many times do I have to say it?”
Boehner doesn’t appear to be going along with his Republican counterparts in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking to avert a shutdown by offering Democrats a clean funding bill for DHS. The speaker would not say whether he would back a Senate funding bill without provisions that would defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. At one point, Boehner blew kisses at reporters after they asked whether he would.
Boehner also broke out one of his classic lines, which he used during the October 2013 government shutdown: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.”
McConnell had attempted to push through a House-passed funding bill four times, but Senate Democrats blocked it each time because of the immigration language.
“Yesterday, the White House press secretary said that this was a fight amongst Republicans. It is not a fight amongst Republicans,” Boehner said on Thursday. “All Republicans agree that we want to fund the Department of Homeland Security and we want to stop the president’s actions in response to immigration.”
McConnell and Boehner spoke with each other on Wednesday for the first time in two weeks. Boehner now has two options: amend the Senate legislation to include immigration language and send it back, or bring a vote to the floor in hopes of avoiding a shutdown.
On Thursday, when asked whether he feels that his speakership is being challenged, Boehner said: “No, heaven’s sakes, no. Not at all.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has been making the rounds on the Hill this week, urging lawmakers to keep his department open. Funding for DHS expires at midnight Friday, and the department has begun notifying the employees that would face furloughs during a shutdown.