The Senate has done their end to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not shutdown at midnight, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Friday morning the Senate passed two bills, one clean $40 billion DHS funding bill that passed with bipartisan support 68 to 31, and another bill stripping the immigration defunding provisions that had been attached to the bill, which passed 66 to 33. The House is working on a stopgap measure, which would temporarily fund DHS for three weeks. The House passed a procedural hurdle by adopting a rule with a vote of 240 to 183, however, the bill is now imperil of not having enough votes, although the White House announced that President Barack Obama would sign the bill.
Prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY spoke on the Senate floor about the clean DHS bill and then urging support for Sen. Susan Collins bill defunding President Obama’s immigration executive actions, “This morning, the Senate will complete work on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. And then, we’ll turn to Senator Collins’ bill. It’s common-sense legislation that would protect our democracy from the egregious example of executive overreach we saw in November. It deserves broad support.” The president however, has promised to veto any bill that defunds his immigration actions.
Meanwhile the House seemed on the way of passing a three-week short-term spending bill before the midnight deadline, but then suddenly it is now facing some problems. Apparently, Republicans are balking at the bill, Democrats are being told not to vote for it and there might not be enough votes for the measure to pass. The House recessed at 1 p.m., but there were assurances the bill would pass before the deadline. A Democratic aide told the Hill, “Sounds like they’re having major problems, and part of it is tied up in what order to take the votes. Still unclear how (or if) they can resolve it. We could solve all their problems if they’d put the Senate bill on the Floor.” The Hill points out the only way the Senate bill would pass if Speaker of the House John Boehner is willing to “divide” the party and base his vote on Democratic support.
President Obama is even open to the stopgap-spending bill; White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest let that be known at the Friday daily press briefing. Earnest explained, “If the president is faced with a choice of having the Department of Homeland Security shut down or fund the Department for the short term, the president is not going to allow the agency to shut down.” Just to make sure his point was understood, Earnest clarified, “So the truth is, if the president is faced with a choice between the short term extension and shutting down the Department of Homeland Security, he will sign the short-term extension.” Still Earnest urged Boehner to take the easier option and put the Senate’s clean bill to a vote instead, “The truth is, the choice for the president is a little difficult. But the choice for the speaker of the House is really easy. Let’s hope he makes the right one.”
At this point, the Republican House opposes any long-term bill that does not defund President Obama’s immigration executive actions, preventing deportations for nearly 5 million illegal immigrants. The Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV has vowed not to conference any bill that includes immigrations provisions, making sure the drama of funding DHS for the rest of the 2015 fiscal year will last a little longer.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.