Tags: senate | dhs | fund | stopgap

Senate Passes Bill Funding DHS Through September

Friday, 27 February 2015 12:05 PM

The House and Senate are taking opposite tracks to avoid a partial shutdown of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tonight, with one option a short-term funding bill that would punt a fight over immigration to next month.

The U.S. Senate on Friday passed, 68-31, its bill to fund the agency through September. The House is readying a three-week stopgap spending measure as well as a bid to force lawmakers, as part of a longer-term spending bill, to negotiate on whether to block President Barack Obama’s orders on immigration.

Homeland Security funding expires at midnight, and without new money the agency’s employees would be put on furlough or required to work without pay.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas said Friday “I’m pretty sure we’ve got” enough votes to pass the short-term spending bill.

Democratic leaders refuse to negotiate on Obama’s immigration policy until Homeland Security is financed through September. In past funding battles, Republicans and Democrats have passed short-term spending bills to avoid running out the clock.

Toward ‘Cliff’

The House “must act responsibly” and pass the Senate spending plan, said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “How many times can House Republicans send our nation hurting toward a cliff?”

“We should not be jerking around the people who are responsible for Homeland Security,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat.

House Republicans insist that a 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 legislation that would undo his action on immigration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, agreed with Democrats that the Senate would address the dispute on immigration policy in a separate bill. The chamber plans to take a procedural vote on that measure, S. 534, later Friday.

Funding Extension

McConnell has said multiple times he won’t allow Homeland Security funding to lapse. The Senate probably would attempt to clear the three-week extension Friday afternoon to stave off funding expiration.

Reid reiterated Friday that Democrats will block negotiations on immigration in a conference committee while Homeland Security remains under short-term funding.

Reid said the House, with Democratic votes, could pass the Senate bill funding the agency through September, H.R. 240, if Speaker John Boehner would allow the measure to come to the floor.

House Democratic leaders are urging members to vote against the three-week funding bill, H.J. Res. 35, according to a leadership aide who asked for anonymity to discuss the matter Thursday.

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.

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.”

Exacerbates ‘Uncertainty’

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson sent House and Senate leaders a letter Thursday saying a temporary measure “exacerbates the uncertainty for my workforce and puts us back in the same position, on the brink of a shutdown just days from now.”

A partial shutdown would require 30,000 staff to be put on furlough and require 170,000 essential personnel to keep working without pay, according to Johnson.

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

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The US Senate has passed a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security through September with no restrictions on President Obama's executive orders on immigration....
senate, dhs, fund, stopgap
Friday, 27 February 2015 12:05 PM
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