By David Lawder and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner will try to sell fellow Republicans this week on a government spending bill that avoids a shutdown fight but allows the party to strike back at President Barack Obama's immigration order.
Republicans have a lot riding on their handling of must-pass government funding. Having scored huge wins in Nov. 4 voting that handed them a majority in the Senate and gave them a bigger majority in the House, Republican leaders want to demonstrate that they can govern responsibly next year.
But many are still outraged that Obama bypassed Congress and is moving ahead unilaterally on immigration, granting what they claim is "amnesty" to people who came to the United States illegally.
House Republicans will meet on Tuesday after a 10-day Thanksgiving break to discuss their response, including a leading option for Boehner that would fund most government agencies through September 2015, with only a short-term extension for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
House Republican aides say this would give Republicans a chance to use their stronger House and Senate majorities next year to pass explicit spending restrictions on DHS immigration-related agencies, to try to stop Obama's immigration overhaul.
"That’s an option. There are a lot of options. That’s one of them so we’ll see," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers told Reuters after a closed-door meeting of senior Republicans on Monday. Rogers is pressing for a full-year spending bill for all agencies.
Senate Republicans are discussing similar proposals for a two-tier spending bill, with full-year funding for most agencies and short-term funding for agencies that would carry out the immigration order, a senior Senate Republican aide said.
Congress must pass a funding extension by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown. Obama's immigration order lifts the threat of deportation for some 4.7 million undocumented immigrants.
Boehner may have difficulty persuading conservatives to fund government agencies now with the promise of a vote on restrictions next year.
"The sense among many conservative Republicans is that Congress has to have an immediate response," said a senior Senate Republican aide.
Some conservatives are calling for a short-term funding extension next week for all agencies with specific language blocking money for Obama's immigration order, another Senate Republican aide said.
Representative Steve Scalise, a member of House Republican leadership, also is trying to rally support for a bill that would strip Obama of authority to exempt people "unlawfully" in the United States from deportation.
But any explicit restrictions against the immigration order passed now by the House would likely be blocked by Senate Democrats, who still control that chamber for another month, and would face an Obama veto.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Tom Brown)