Boehner: House will fund Homeland Security, block Obama on immigration

(Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives will vote to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security this week while blocking President Barack Obama’s actions on immigration, House Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday.

The $39.7 billion spending bill was expected to pass by Wednesday, when House Republicans leave Washington for a two-day policy retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

But its fate in the Senate was uncertain, and it may draw a White House veto.

Republican lawmakers leaving a closed-door strategy meeting on Tuesday said the House would seek to pass amendments to the core funding bill to deny money to implement Obama’s November executive order lifting the threat of deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants. Republicans claim the order is illegal.

“Our goal here is to fund the Department of Homeland Security. And our second goal is to stop the president’s executive overreach,” Boehner told reporters.

Boehner, however, declined to say whether he would bring a “clean” DHS funding bill to the floor if the newly Republican-controlled Senate fails to pass the House measure or if Obama vetoes it over immigration-related provisions.

Current funding for the sprawling agency that spearheads domestic counterterrorism efforts and secures U.S. borders, airports and coastal waters expires on Feb. 27.

Republicans also plan an amendment aimed at reversing Obama’s 2012 initiative deferring action against immigrants brought into the United States illegally as children. If passed, it could put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of deportation.

Some Republican lawmakers said this amendment may have more difficulty passing, so the party was working to drum up support.

“I would expect some bipartisan opposition on that,” said Representative Tom Cole, a close ally of Boehner. “Some people will vote no on the amendment but might still be comfortable on the final vote, after they’ve had a chance to register their concern.”

Meanwhile, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of putting DHS funding in jeopardy at a time of high alert following the last week’s deadly attacks in Paris.

“In January, a horrible, horrible terrorist attack took place in Paris,” Pelosi told reporters on the Capitol steps. “You’d think it would have heightened the urgency to pass a homeland security bill, but the Republicans still say no to passing a clean bill unless they can be a menace to immigration.”