That statement contrasts with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's views on the matter. "We will not be enablers to a Republican government shutdown, partial or otherwise," Pelosi said last week, though Reid's comments may now give cover to House Democrats who would prefer to support the GOP's proposed spending measure.
Boehner declined to announce the plan publicly at a press conference directly after the private meeting; rather, he noted that he is looking at "a variety of options, both for right now and when Republicans control both houses of the Congress next year."
"This is a serious breach of our Constitution," Boehner said of Obama's immigration order. "It's a serious threat to our system of government. And frankly, we have limited options and limited ability to deal with it directly. But that's why we're continuing to talk to our members. We've not made decisions about how we're going to proceed, but we are, in fact, going to proceed."
Despite pressure from outside groups, such as Heritage Action, he noted that most of his members understand that blocking the president's order will be easier next year when Republicans also control the Senate.
It is unclear whether the plan being discussed has support from enough members in the conference. Some members at the meeting raised the idea of also temporarily funding other agencies involved in immigration, such as the Justice Department. Boehner's strategy would need strong GOP support if House Democrats band together to oppose it.
Rep. Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said Tuesday it would be "dangerous and irresponsible to engage in stunts and gimmicks affecting funding for the agencies under the Department of Homeland Security."¦ This is no way to run a government. We should proceed with negotiations and develop a full omnibus."
The Obama administration similarly dislikes the idea. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified at a House hearing Tuesday morning that temporary funding would make it harder to run his department effectively.
Rep. Dennis Ross, a member of the GOP whip team, said Republicans had "learned from what happened last time" the party had a spending showdown with Obama, and they want to avoid another government shutdown.
Ross was skeptical that his party's plan would attract Democratic votes but expressed confidence most Republicans would unite behind it. Party conservatives, Ross said, "want to vote for it, but they're wrestling with what the details are going to be."
Yet within an hour after leaders floated the plan, members began to push back. At a periodic roundtable of conservative-minded members, several lawmakers said they would rather vote for an appropriations bill that limits funding to carry out the president's immigration action, and if the Senate does not accept it, a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the entire government through January or February.