Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that Republicans would not fight President Barack Obama's unilateral move on immigration by threatening a government shutdown.
McConnell was asked by the press if Republicans might consider holding up government funding if that move helps them fight back against Obama's pending immigration move. But McConnell indicated that was not part of the GOP's plan.
"We will not be shutting the government down, or threatening to default on the national debt," McConnell said.
Congress needs to pass a government funding bill before mid-December, and many Republicans support adding language that prevents Obama from using any federal funds to implement his immigration plan. But a few Republicans also think the GOP should use the leverage of the spending bill to ensure Obama doesn't act on his own.
That more aggressive plan, however, seems unlikely to be taken up by Republicans, most of which are eager to demonstrate they can govern responsibly and lay the groundwork for a successful presidential election in 2016.
While McConnell rejected the idea of a shutdown, he did say he's not happy with how Obama has responded to the midterm elections, which the GOP says showed widespread disagreement with Obama's policy goals.
"I've been very disturbed about the way the president has proceeded in the wake of the election," he said. "Whether it was his intervention on net neutrality, his apparent decision to move ahead on immigration with executive orders, the rather ridiculous agreement with the Chinese, under which they basically have to do nothing for the next 16 years while we're losing jobs in this country as a result of EPA's over-regulation."
"I had maybe naively hoped the president would look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us," McConnell added. "I still hope he does at some point, but the early signs are not good."
He did say that Senate Democrats seem to have gotten the message. Democrats suddenly agreed on Wednesday to allow a vote on legislation to approve the Keystone pipeline.
Democrats agreed to the vote in a bid to help Sen. Mary Landieu (D-La.) keep her seat. While Obama has opposed the pipeline, Senate Republicans were likely to hold the same vote early next year.
Fox News and the New York Times have reported that Obama might act on immigration as early as next week. Those steps could including ending the threat of deportation for million and allowing them to work, but also increasing border security.