House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that Democrats have offered to help House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) next week when he tries to pass a government funding bill — legislation that would likely be opposed by many Republicans if it doesn't defund President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.
Boehner has signaled all week that he won't call up a spending bill that stops Obama's immigration plans, which has led some to worry that GOP members will oppose it and increase the risk of a government shutdown. But Pelosi's comments seemed to confirm what many have suspected — that Democrats will likely supply Boehner with the votes he needs to keep the government open.
"We have extended the hand… of friendship, once again to the Speaker, to say, let's us help as we did to open up government, or to keep it from being shut down," Pelosi told reporters.
Pelosi noted that Democrats have often come to Boehner's rescue on tough votes, including recent votes to lift the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown in 2013.
In 2013, 144 Republicans voted against a bill to reopen the government, but 198 Democrats voted with 87 Republicans to pass the bill. Earlier this year, 199 Republicans voted against an increase in the debt ceiling, but that bill also passed with Democratic support.
Votes from Democrats could be a real help to Boehner. If the spending bill doesn't include tough language on immigration, and he loses more than 16 Republican votes as a result, it will need help from Democrats in order for it to pass.
No one has seen the bill yet, and it's expected to be released on Monday. But several Republicans have indicated they could not support a bill that doesn't immediately block Obama's plan to allow up to 5 million illegal immigrants stay and work in the United States.
Earlier this week, Boehner refused to say if he would ever support language that tries to block Obama's action, and said he'd prefer to have this fight next year, when Republicans run the Senate.
Pelosi said Friday that the extent to which Democrats can help Boehner would likely depend on the contents of the bill. She listed several issues that Democrats care about, including environmental rules, food standards and respect for the District of Columbia's decision to let people grow and possess marijuana as examples of things they would be watching for.
"I'm not saying any one of them is a deal breaker, but I'm saying these are an array of concerns that we have," she said.