By Lisa Mascaro, Michael A. Memoli and Joseph Tanfani
December 2, 2014

Hoping to prevent a government shutdown by opponents of President Obama’s immigration plan, House Speaker John A. Boehner floated a proposal Tuesday for funding most of the government — but not the immigration agencies — through the end of the 2015 fiscal year.

The Republican leader said the plan remained a work in progress as leaders tried to round up support. It would fund the immigration agencies only until early next year, when Republicans believe they will have greater leverage to fight the president.

To sweeten the deal for Republican hard-liners, a separate measure condemning Obama’s go-it-alone executive action on immigration would be voted on in the House as early as this week. But that bill would be largely symbolic since the Democratic-controlled Senate would probably ignore it.

In many ways, Boehner’s move is the opening salvo in what is expected to be a long-running legislative fight to undo the president’s immigration executive action, which would protect up to 5 million immigrants — mostly parents of U.S. citizens.

A government shutdown or prolonged budget battle over immigration is something Republican leaders want to avoid after the party takes control of both houses of Congress in January. They would prefer to focus on the GOP’s broader agenda to scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act, cut taxes and bolster trade policy.

On immigration, Boehner and other Republican leaders say they will instead fight the president in the courts or attempt to rally public opinion against the plan, as was seen in Tuesday’s grilling of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

But some conservatives are demanding a stronger response. A few want to use the upcoming Dec. 11 deadline to pass a new government appropriations bills as leverage, which could provoke a shutdown. Party leaders say another government shutdown should be off the table, because they fear Republicans would be blamed by voters for such a move.

Whether Boehner can hold his troops to keep the government running remains to be seen. After emerging from a closed-door meeting with lawmakers Tuesday, he sounded a cautionary note.

“Frankly, we have limited options,” the Ohio Republican said.
There’s no doubt we’re in a box here. We’re not going to shut down the government again. No one wants us to do that. – Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)

Democrats in Congress could provide Republican leaders with the help they need for passage.

On Tuesday they softened their opposition to Boehner’s plan, which has been nicknamed the “cromnibus” — a hybrid of the short-term continuing resolution, or CR, that would be used to fund immigration accounts until early next year, and the broader omnibus spending package to fund the rest of the government through Sept. 30.

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