Boehner Leaves Open Possible Vote on Dem-Backed DHS Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Speaker John Boehner left open the possibility Monday of passage of long-term funding for the Department of Homeland Security without immigration provisions attached, as his alternatives dwindled for avoiding a capitulation to the White House and Democrats.

Boehner declined to say over the weekend if he would permit a vote on the Senate-passed measure, and his spokesman similarly sidestepped the question on Monday. Officials in both parties predict it would pass, and end the recurring threat of a partial agency shutdown.

Democrats said they believe the speaker eventually would relent and permit a vote on the bill, which conservatives oppose and President Barack Obama is eager to sign.

The White House also urged a vote on the measure.

A decision by Boehner to permit a vote on the stand-alone funding bill would mark the complete failure of a Republican strategy designed to make funding for the Department of Homeland Security contingent on concessions from Obama. The president has issued a pair of directives since 2012 that lifted the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living in the country illegally, steps that Republicans say exceeded his constitutional authority.

DHS, which has major anti-terrorism duties, is also responsible for border control.

A funding bill for the agency has produced partisan gridlock in the first several weeks of the new Congress, even though Republicans gained control of the Senate last fall and won more seats in the House than at any time in 70 years.