Senate Democrats Block DHS Funding Bill For A Fourth Time

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Democrats blocked debate on a Department of Homeland Security funding bill for a fourth time on Monday.

Last month, the House passed a DHS appropriations bill that also defunds President Obama’s executive amnesty. Senate Democrats have prevented consideration of the bill because it contains provisions blocking Obama’s actions.

House Republicans have said they do not plan on bringing up another iteration of the DHS appropriations bill. And Senate Democrats — including those who have offered concerns and even opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty — have been preventing the bill from even getting to the floor.

Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Angus King (I-ME) — an independent who caucuses with the Democrats — had all expressed concern about executive amnesty.

Before the vote Monday, Republican Senators expressed frustration with the fact that Democrats were obstructing debate and amendments to the bill.

“[I]t’s time to allow this Homeland Security funding measure to come to the floor. Democrats say they want the ability to amend DHS’ funding legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the Senate floor. “But then they keep voting to block their own ability to offer amendments.”

With funding for DHS set to expire on February 27 should if Congress fails to pass a funding bill, the clock is ticking for lawmakers to find a path forward.

At a press conference Monday, DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson warned against letting funding for the department lapse and called for Congress to move a DHS funding bill free of provisions blocking Obama’s executive amnesty.

“I support a fully funded Department of Homeland Security, free of any amendments to defund our executive actions. That’s what I support, plain and simple, and that’s what I’ve been urging this Congress to do,” Johnson said.

The funding battle occurs as a lawsuit — brought by 26 states — challenging Obama’s executive amnesty sees movement. Last week a federal judge temporarily blocked the executive actions from taking effect. Monday the Obama administration requested the judge place a stay on the decision as it appeals.

The victory in the courts has emboldened some Republican lawmakers to continue to push forward on the course to defund executive amnesty.

“The Senate Democrats who are filibustering Department of Homeland Security funding should look hard at this ruling,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said last week in reaction to the ruling. “At a time when we face grave national security threats, at home and abroad, it is the height of irresponsibility for the Democrats to block this funding in an extreme attempt to save Obama’s amnesty, which a federal judge has just declared illegal.”

Others, including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have suggested the decision could provide an out from the defund fight.

“I agree with the Texas judge who said that the executive orders were illegal. I hope Republicans will come together and back the court case, file a friend of the court brief with the court and fund DHS. I am willing and ready to pass a DHS funding bill and let this play out in court,” Graham said Sunday.


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