Tags: Barack Obama | Homeland Security | Immigration | National Debt | Travel | House | Republicans

House Republicans to Seek Stopgap Funding for Homeland Security

Thursday, 26 Feb 2015 06:24 PM

House Republicans plan to vote on a stopgap funding bill to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security while still insisting that a long-term plan block President Barack Obama’s immigration order.

Under the plan, the House would vote early Friday to fund the agency for three weeks. After similar action by the Senate, the House would vote to create a House-Senate conference committee to decide how to address immigration in a long-term funding bill, said Rep. Richard Nugent of Florida, who attended the meeting.

Democratic leaders said they won’t negotiate on Obama’s immigration policy until Homeland Security is financed through September. The agency’s funding set to expire in two days.

House Speaker John Boehner offered a "very reasoned way in which to create space to have that debate with the Senate," Rep. Darrell Issa of California told reporters after a closed-door party meeting Thursday. The response from members was "very good," he said.

The Senate plans to vote Friday on passage of a bill that would finance the agency without addressing Obama’s immigration orders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to address immigration separately.

McConnell’s Stance

McConnell, of Kentucky, has said multiple times that he won’t allow Homeland Security funding to lapse.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said earlier in the day, "We will not allow a conference to take place." Under Senate rules, the minority party can refuse to allow the creation of a conference committee.

House Republicans insist that any long-term Homeland Security spending bill must block Obama’s November orders shielding 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportations. Democrats oppose any move to link the agency’s funding with immigration policy, and Obama has said he would veto any legislation that would undo his action on immigration.

Boehner, of Ohio, is under pressure from tea party-backed Republicans to use the Homeland Security bill as leverage after he promised a battle over Obama’s immigration orders this year.

Nugent, a sometime critic of Boehner, said he approved of the speaker’s approach.

"I think the speaker has laid out a plan — and obviously he can’t control what the Senate does or does not do — that gives a reasonable way forward," said Nugent.

Other Republicans expressed skepticism, saying Reid and Senate Democrats probably wouldn't agree.

'Tactical Malpractice'

Asked by reporters whether the maneuver was meant to pin added blame on Reid and Democrats, Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania didn’t disagree. Dent, co-chairman of a group of centrist House Republicans, called it "tactical malpractice."

"It’s an effort to punt like Republicans like to do," said Raul Labrador, a Republican from Idaho.

Labrador said said he needs to hear how leadership would be able to force the Senate to go to conference. Otherwise, he said he would vote against stopgap funding.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that the disagreement is among the Republicans who took control of both houses of Congress in January.

'Falling Down'

"And here we are, seven or eight weeks into their tenure, and they’re on the precipice of falling down on the job," Earnest said. "That’s notable when we’re talking about something as important as funding the Department of Homeland Security."

A decision to put off a long-term spending bill would put the matter close to other anticipated legislative battles. Legislation canceling planned cuts to doctors’ Medicare reimbursement rates expires on April 1. Though the nation's debt ceiling will be back in place on March 15, it likely will not have to be addressed until mid-year.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, outside the House chamber on Thursday, criticized the idea of a short-term bill that would retain last year’s spending level.

"We need a fully funded Department of Homeland Security in these challenging times," he said, "a full-year appropriations bill to fund all of our key missions."

A partial shutdown would require thousands of staff to be put on furlough and require those deemed essential personnel to keep working without pay.

Earlier Thursday, Boehner insisted that Republicans aren’t divided over how to proceed.

Immigration Orders

"It’s not a fight amongst Republicans," he said, because party members in both chambers agree they want to block Obama’s immigration orders.

One member of Boehner’s Republican caucus who disagrees is Rep. Peter King of New York, a member of the Homeland Security Committee.

"What you’re talking about is a small group of people who want to hold the party hostage," King said. "We have to cut them off now because they’ll keep doing this."

The risk of a partial Homeland Security shutdown comes less than two months after Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress. McConnell has insisted there will be "no government shutdowns."

Lawmakers also risk embarrassment if the Department of Homeland Security is shut down on March 3 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address a joint meeting of Congress on security issues.

The Department of Homeland Security includes the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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House Republicans plan to vote on a stopgap funding bill to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security while still insisting that a long-term plan block President Barack Obama's immigration orders.
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2015-24-26
Thursday, 26 Feb 2015 06:24 PM
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