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Boehner tells Senate Democrats to "get off their ass" on immigration

Last Updated Feb 11, 2015 12:51 PM EST

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, implored Senate Democrats on Wednesday to "get off their ass" and help the Senate Republican majority advance a bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security while de-funding President Obama's recent executive actions on immigration.

Last Month, the House passed a bill allocating $39.7 billion to the Department of Homeland Security, the agency tasked with enforcing the nation's immigration laws. The bill included language to block President Obama's move last year to shelter up to 5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from the threat of deportation by granting them temporary work permits. The proposal also undid the president's 2012 decision to defer deportations of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Now the ball is in the Senate's court, Boehner said Wednesday, insisting no fewer than three times that the House has done its job.

"We won the fight to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president's unconstitutional actions," he said. "Now it's time for the Senate to do their work."

"You know, in this gift shop out here, they've got these little booklets on how a bill becomes a law," Boehner added. "The House has done its job. Why don't you go ask the Senate Democrats when they're gonna get off their ass and do something other than to vote no."

Senate Democrats, wielding a 46-seat majority, were able to successfully block consideration of the bill three times last week by depriving Republicans of the 60 votes necessary to proceed. They demanded a clean funding bill devoid of any restrictive language on immigration, something GOP conservatives have fiercely opposed.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, directed the blame for the impasse squarely at Republicans in a statement on Wednesday.

"We know Speaker Boehner is frustrated but cursing is not going to resolve the squabbling among Republicans that led to this impasse," explained Adam Jentleson. "Democrats have been clear from day one about the way out of this mess: take up the clean Homeland Security funding bill which Republicans signed off on in December - and which is ready to come to the Senate floor - pass it, and move on. If Republicans want to debate immigration policy next, Democrats are happy to have that debate."

"Neither Speaker Boehner nor Senator McConnell appears willing to do the right thing and stand up to the extremists in their caucus," Jentleson added.

Even as he lectured the upper chamber, which came under GOP control in January, Boehner downplayed tensions with Senate Republicans.

"The issue here is not Senate Republicans," he insisted. "The issue here is Senate Democrats -- seven of whom criticized the president's executive overreach on immigration, and yet they continue to block consideration of the bill."

The tug of war between the House and Senate over DHS funding marks one of the first signs of inter-party friction within the GOP since Republicans assumed full control of the Congress. Asked about the standoff on Wednesday, Boehner said the cooperation with the Senate is "working exactly the way I'd envisioned."

"I love Mitch," he later added, grinning as he referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. "He has a tough job to do, and so do I."