Republican leadership in the Senate is fully caving to the demands of Democratic lawmakers calling for a so-called “clean” Department of Homeland Security funding bill that leaves President Obama’s executive amnesty intact, but Democrats are still balking at the plan.
“I’ve indicated to the Democratic leader that I’d be happy to have his cooperation to advance consideration of a clean DHS bill, which would carry us through September 30,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters Tuesday. “With Democratic cooperation on a position they have been advocating for the last two months, we could have that vote very quickly.”
“This is a total victory for the Obama position,” said a GOP senator unhappy with McConnell’s plan. “The House hasn’t passed it yet, so they might could come up with something. But that’s a grim prospect.”
But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid balked at the offer, saying Democrats would continue to filibuster the bill until House Speaker John Boehner indicated he was willing to also pass it through the House.
“The problem is everybody, I’m waiting to hear from the Speaker. We have to make sure people understand the bicameral nature of this Congress that we serve in. So to have Sen. McConnell just pass the ball over to the House isn’t going to do the trick. I’m waiting to hear from the Speaker,” Reid said.
According to Reid, until he hears from Boehner, the issue remains “where we were.”
“We’re willing to debate anything they want dealing with immigration, after we fund homeland security,” Reid said.
In conjunction with the clean funding bill, McConnell said the Senate would also vote on stand-alone legislation block the Obama’s most recent executive amnesty, announced in November, which would provide legal status and work permits to nearly 5 million illegal immigrants and is currently under a court-issued injunction.
“My hope is that the Senate will act. I don’t know what the House will do but I do think we have a responsibility to act here. We have a solution to the problem that deals with both things: number one giving senators an opportunity to express their disapproval of what the president did in November and some Democrats — as you know — have already announced they agree with me on that,” McConnell said, adding that the second aspect, funding DHS with a clean bill, is exactly what Democrats have requested.
“I don’t know what’s not to like about this,” he added.
The move toward a clean DHS funding bill comes after weeks of a Democratic filibuster of an initial House-passed DHS funding bill that would block all of Obama’s executive amnesties. It also occurs following a federal judge’s ruling temporarily blocking Obama’s November executive amnesty.
Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) pointed to the recent court order as an aspect of consolation.
“The most important point I think we need to acknowledge is that with this federal court injunction in place, any money that the United States Congress appropriates for the Department of Homeland Security will not go to fund the president’s illegal executive action because it’s barred by a federal court inunction and subject to a contempt of court finding,” Cornyn said, arguing that this week the Senate must ensure DHS is funded.
Reid stressed the importance of funding the department.
“We need to protect our homeland. We have people being beheaded. People being stacked in cages, one of them has been burned in a cage,” he added. “We have the direct threat to our malls around America and we have to be as prepared for these bad people, as ISIS is prepared and these other terrorist groups to do harm to us. ”
Democrats echoed Reid’s sentiment that the matter is now up to Boehner.
“So now all eyes are on Speaker Boehner,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters. “Will he fully fund homeland security in a separate bill sent it to the president for a signature and then both houses can debate immigration — as long as the majority in each house wants to — or is he going to go back to his old way and say ‘I’ll do this, that, or the other thing but I won’t fund homeland security?’”