Republican governors tell Congress: Don't shut government down over immigration
Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at a luncheon during the Republican Jewish Coalition Spring Leadership Meeting at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus.

Republican governors huddling in Florida on Wednesday warned fellow conservatives in Washington against shutting down the U.S. government in response to President Barack Obama's expected move to ease immigration policy.

Obama's plan to grant deportation relief for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants was the talk of the Republican Governors Association conference, where 25 governors gathered to celebrate sweeping victories in the midterm elections and plot a path forward.

"No! No! They're not going to shut the government down," Ohio governor John Kasich told Reuters.

"It's not even an issue. It's not going to happen," said the former congressman, who is often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016 after a big re-election win.

Kasich and several other Republican governors who may be considering a presidential run said they were wary of a strategy pushed by some conservatives on Capitol Hill who want to use a must-pass bill to fund the government as leverage to fight Obama on the immigration plan.

Such a measure could set up a battle like the one that led to the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013.

While Republican leaders have said they do not intend to get into such a fight, the governors in Florida still spoke out against that prospect.

"All this hysteria about a shutdown to me is just people looking to make news," said New Jersey's Chris Christie, who also spoke to incoming Republican lawmakers in Washington on Monday.

"I think this Republican Congress and this new leadership will do what they need to do to make sure the government runs and operates and continues to go," he added.

Wisconsin's Scott Walker, also seen as a White House aspirant, echoed conservative calls for a possible lawsuit against Obama, but he stopped short of calling for a shutdown fight.

"I wouldn't push a shutdown," said Walker, who this month won his third election in the swing-state of Wisconsin. "I think you go to court."

Kasich, who spent 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and unsuccessfully ran for president in 2000, said if he were still in Washington he would urge congressional leaders to be in contact with Obama soon.

"What I would be saying to the leaders is: 'Go down to the White House one more time and see if you can get him to put this off until we can write something together.'"

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; editing by Gunna Dickson)