White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama would sign a stopgap measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security for three weeks and prevent a partial government shutdown, if he's presented with one.
"If the president is faced with a choice of having the Department of Homeland Security shut down or fund that department for a short-term, the president is not going to allow the agency to shut down," Earnest told reporters on Friday. "He will sign a short-term extension."
On whether Obama would address the potential shutdown, Earnest said, "if we've learned anything about the cliffhanger moments in Congress in the last few years, it's that the unpredictable can happen and it may necessitate a presidential statement."
However, Earnest said the pressure is on House Speaker John Boehner to bring to a vote a measure that would fully fund DHS, and avoid a stopgap. "The choice for the president is a little difficult, but the choice for the speaker of the House is really easy," Earnest continued. "Let's hope he makes the right one."
The Senate passed a clean DHS funding bill Friday. Senate Democrats are waiting for the House to pass a bill that would exclude provisions to block the president's executive actions on immigration.
The House is debating a short-term bill that would extend current funding of the DHS until March 19. Boehner proposed the stopgap funding measure on Thursday night, a sign that a compromise may be met before Friday's midnight deadline. Until that point, Boehner had maintained the "House had done its job" in passing a DHS funding bill—albeit one that also sought to inflict a political wound on Obama.
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