(CNSNews.com) - House Republicans say they are eager to pass a bill to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security, as long as no funding goes to President Obama's vastly expanded immigration program.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, House speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "This is actually not about the issue of immigration. This is about the president acting lawlessly...Listen, our goal here is to fund the Department of Homeland Security.
"Our second goal is to stop the president's executive overreach. This is not the way our government was intended to work. The president said 22 times that he didn't have the authority to do what he eventually did. He knows -- he knows the truth here, and so do the American people. And our job is to listen to the American people and hold the president accountable."
Last month, House Republicans passed a bill funding all of government -- all of President Obama's priorities -- for a full year, except for the Department of Homeland Security. Funding for that agency, which oversees immigration matters, will run out at the end of February.
Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) told CSPAN on Tuesday that the Republican Study Committee -- which he chairs -- helped develop the strategy to partially fund DHS, using it as leverage to reverse Obama's executive amnesty.
"So, I mean, we're not playing politics with anything," Flores said. "We're doing what the American people asked us to do. We're doing what we promised the American people...So I would hope that the president would voluntarily back down and remove this unlawful action, and then we can have the conversation about how do we deal with this."
'It's up to the president'
Funding DHS is "important in light of the recent events around the world," Flores told CSPAN. But he said it's also important for Republicans to prevent President Obama from "overstepping his constitutional boundaries and enacting something that Congress clearly didn't intend for him to do.
"The president -- we're going to send him a bill, and if he signs it, Homeland Security gets funded. And if he doesn't sign it, Homeland Security gets disrupted. So it's up to the president. Is he going to decide just because of his illegal activity, that he's going to shut down Homeland Security? That's the president's call. I hope they make the right decision."
At Monday's press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest criticized Republican plans to "muck around" with DHS funding legislation, and he indicated the president would veto such a bill:
"We've made clear, dating back to last fall, that the president would oppose any legislative effort to undermine the executive actions that he took to add greater accountability to our immigration system," Earnest said.
Likewise, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told CSPAN on Sunday, "It would be a bad idea for anybody to play politics with the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bills. It would be bad any time. It is especially, I think, bad signal now to do that. so I really hope our Republican colleagues will not tie down that Department of Homeland Security bill with other kinds of amendments. Unfortunately, by all accounts, it looks like that is what they are planning to do this week."
Van Hollen said he doubts the Senate will go along with the House strategy. "And then our Republican colleagues will have to decide whether they want to shut down the whole Department of Homeland Security unless they get those provisions. And I certainly hope they back off on where they're headed right now."
Flores, responding to Van Hollen's comments, said Republicans plan to give DHS $400 billion more than it received in the last fiscal year.
"We're also saying, though, that we're doing what 56 percent of Americans want us to do -- who think the president did the wrong thing when he illegally granted amnesty to several million folks. We're saying, we're going to stop that. And yes, Mr. President, we'll sit down and talk to you about it. But first, we've got to clear the decks and get that illegal activity out of the way, and then move forward with a plan."
Flores said Republicans prefer to deal with with a number of smaller immigration bills rather than a comprehensive bill, such as the one passed by the Senate.