Washington (CNN)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's push to move past the battle over funding the Department of Homeland Security could put several fellow Republicans in a tough spot.
6 Republicans to watch in DHS fight
McConnnell, a Kentucky Republican, could soon hold a vote on legislation that would keep the agency open without targeting President Barack Obama's immigration orders loathed by the GOP. (A separate vote would give Republicans a chance to go on record opposing the orders.)
The move has infuriated House conservatives who are urging their Senate counterparts to stand firm.
And it means that GOP senators up for re-election next year in Democratic-leaning states will have a decision to make: Risk a primary challenge and support McConnell's position or open themselves up to general election accusations that they shut down an agency vital to national security.
Here's what six of the Republicans facing the toughest re-election races in 2016 are saying:
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire): She will back McConnell's plan to pass a "clean" DHS funding bill, arguing the battle can be fought in court. A federal judge in Texas has already temporarily blocked Obama's orders from taking effect.
"In light of the court injunction -- which prevents the administration from carrying out the president's executive action -- I will support legislation that would fully fund homeland security operations for the rest of the fiscal year," Ayotte said in a statement. :I will also vote in favor of a separate measure that would defund the president's 2014 executive action, and I support further challenging his illegal actions through the court system."
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin): He's repeatedly pinned the blame on Democrats for failing to allow a House-passed bill that attacked Obama's immigration actions from moving forward. But he indicated he'd back McConnell's plan.
These are some tough times. It looks like we are going to start getting some progress from our Democratic colleagues here," he said.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois): The typically-moderate Kirk has been among the strongest Republican backers of McConnell's move to separate DHS funding from the immigration issue. "As a governing party, we've got to fund DHS and say to the House, 'Here's a straw so you can suck it up," he said Thursday.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): He said House Republicans need to understand the procedural differences between the two chambers. "There's a disconnect between what people want to do and what we can do, given the procedural situation," he said. "I'm very upset at what the president did and, you know, I totally get where the House is coming from on that. And the question is: How do we effectively stop him? ... We have to get 60 votes, so we have to rely on six Democrats. And they don't have to deal with that [in the House]."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): Rubio's in an especially complicated spot, because he's also considering a run for the party's 2016 presidential nomination -- where conservative electorates in early-voting states like Iowa are already leery of his departure from orthodoxy on immigration reform.
Early this month, Rubio appeared to have moved toward supporting a "clean" DHS bill, telling a Las Vegas crowd that "we can't let Homeland Security shut down." But this week, he backed off those remarks, saying in New Hampshire: "I don't believe we should pass a clean DHS bill. It's very difficult to pass anything now because of the Democrats. They won't let us get to 60 votes."
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.): The former head of the hard-line Club for Growth said he was "very pleased" by the Texas judge's ruling against Obama's immigration actions, and that he'd support the "clean" DHS funding bill.