House Republican leaders and rank-and-file conservatives are engaged in a silent standoff about how to proceed on funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
In front of the cameras they are on the same page: Speaker John Boehner and hard-line conservatives alike pin the blame for any potential partial shutdown of DHS squarely on Democrats. But with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling the House GOP in private meetings—and through the press—that his chamber cannot pass a DHS funding bill, members are scrambling to find an alternative strategy.
Time to resolve the standoff is short: The department's funding lapses at month's end.
Centrist-leaning members have urged House leaders to bring up a bill funding the department that is devoid of the contentious policy riders rolling back President Obama's executive actions on immigration. Leaders have been reticent to even publicly entertain the idea, but hard-line members are starting to worry that under pressure from Democrats, the Senate, and the public, leaders will hold a vote on a clean DHS funding bill or a continuing resolution.
As a result, a group of conservative members is privately considering blocking any bill funding DHS without the immigration riders. The House Freedom Caucus—a new, secretive cadre of conservatives—is considering taking a stand against any procedural motion that would allow leaders to bring a clean DHS funding bill to the floor, according to several sources associated with the group.