WASHINGTON (AP) – With a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department possible at week's end, Speaker John Boehner says the House wants to enter talks with the Senate on a final bill funding the agency. Senate Democrats are not interested in joining those talks.
The Senate is holding a vote Monday on whether to proceed on the question of talks between the two chambers.
Congress late Friday cleared a one-week extension for the department after 52 House conservatives defied their leadership and helped scuttle legislation that would have given the agency a three-week reprieve.
House Republican leaders on Sunday demanded that Democrats begin negotiations on funding for the Homeland Security Department and President Barack Obama's unilateral actions on immigration. But even some Republicans said the party should simply surrender and give the agency money without conditions.
Republicans and Democrats have not found common ground.
"We want to get a conference with the Senate. Now, they've made clear that they don't want to go to conference. But they're going to have a vote. If they vote, in fact, not to get a conference, this bill may be coming back to the House," Boehner said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Friday's humiliating defeat produced a backlash in the House, with some Republicans criticizing their conservative colleagues and others arguing it was time to fully fund the agency for the year and move on.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a former chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said Boehner needs to find a way to get a bill to the House floor without the divisive immigration provisions.
"There's no doubt it will pass.... We cannot allow this small group to block it," King said. He added that once it comes to a vote, "then we really, as Republicans, have to stand behind the speaker and make it clear we're not going to allow this faction to be dominating and to be impeding what we're trying to do."
A day earlier, Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee, also criticized conservatives for their stance on funding the agency.
Conservatives angered by a three-week extension with no rollback of Obama's directives last November to spare millions of immigrants from deportation combined with Democrats insisting on full-year funding to sink the legislation.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agreed to a one-week extension and told her Democratic rank-and-file in a letter to back the seven-day patch because "your vote will assure that we will vote for full funding next week."
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the No. 3 House Republican, said Sunday there was no such deal.
But privately, a senior Democratic congressional aide said Boehner spoke to Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and committed to bringing up a bill without conditions. The person spoke anonymously to relate a private conversation.
Boehner on Sunday acknowledged that Friday "wasn't all that fun," and acknowledged that " lot of members have a lot of different ideas about what we should and shouldn't be doing."
A spokesman for Reid said Sunday there will be no negotiations with the House over Homeland Security funding and immigration. Senate Democrats are expected to block any plans for formal talks in Monday night's vote.
"Sen. Reid has been clear for days on the fact that there will be no conference," said Adam Jentleson, Reid's spokesman. He said House Republicans want a conference so they can load up a funding bill that would pass with "poison pill riders."
A so-called clean bill, in this instance, is one that focuses solely on the funding and does not include the immigration provisions.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she doesn't envision Senate Democrats budging.
Scalise was on "Fox News Sunday," King spoke on ABC's "This Week" and Feinstein made her comments on CNN's "State of the Union."