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Boehner may back down on Homeland Security vote

WASHINGTON -- Speaker John Boehner left open the possibility Monday of passage of long-term funding for the Department of Homeland Security without immigration provisions attached, as his alternatives dwindled for avoiding a capitulation to the White House and Democrats.

Boehner declined to say over the weekend if he would permit a vote on the Senate-passed measure, and his spokesman similarly sidestepped the question Monday.

Officials in both parties predict it would pass and end the recurring threat of a partial agency shutdown.

Democrats said they believe the speaker eventually would relent and permit a vote on the bill, which conservatives oppose and President Barack Obama is eager to sign.

"I would hope and expect that we will have a vote" this week, said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat. The White House also urged a vote on the measure.

Senate Democrats were ready to do their part. They vowed to foreclose another one of Boehner's steadily declining list of options by dealing defeat to a Republican call for formal House-Senate negotiations on the subject.

A decision by Boehner to permit a vote on the stand-alone funding bill would mark the failure of a Republican strategy designed to make funding for the Department of Homeland Security contingent on concessions from Obama. The president has issued a pair of directives since 2012 that lifted the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living in the country illegally, steps Republicans say exceeded his constitutional authority.

Homeland Security, which has major anti-terrorism duties, is also responsible for border control.

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