Senate and House Republicans are blaming each other for the deadlock with Democrats in Congress over funding for President Barack Obama’s divisive immigration policy.
Republicans had hoped to attach riders to the funding bill for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that would prevent Obama carrying out his executive action giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, according to The Wall Street Journal
But with the deadline for the bill to extend the agency’s funding little more than two weeks away, House and Senate Republicans had planned to pass a bill stopping Obama’s plans with the help of a small group of Democrats, The Hill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday that a bill passed by the House last month had been held up in the Senate by Democrats who had filibustered procedural motions.
McConnell says that the House will have to come up with new legislation that could help get a handful of Democrats on board who don’t like Obama’s immigration policy, and reach the 60 votes needed to pass in the upper chamber.
"It’s clearly stuck in the Senate," said McConnell, referring to the first round of House legislation. "The next step is obviously up to the House."
"It’s clear we can’t get on the bill. We can’t offer amendments to the bill. And I think it would be pretty safe to say we’re stuck because of Democratic obstruction on the Senate side."
But House Speaker John Boehner’ spokesman Michael Steel fired back, saying, "The House has passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and block the president’s unilateral executive action on immigration. There’s little point in additional House action."
According to The Hill, Steel added that "the pressure is on Senate Democrats" who claim to oppose Obama’s immigration action but "are filibustering a bill to stop it."
The funding for Homeland Security, which is in charge of deporting undocumented aliens, runs out on Feb. 27, and some GOP leaders are willing to let the showdown with Democrats end in a stalemate, resulting in the DHS starting March without any money to spend.
Democrats claim that Republicans are putting the nation’s security at risk in a battle over immigration policy, and instead are calling for a clean funding bill without riders targeting Obama’s amnesty action, which is aimed at holding up deportations for nearly 5 million immigrants who have children legally born in the U.S.
"The Republican majority is twiddling its thumbs as it gets closer and closer to shutting down DHS," said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York. "We Democrats have pushed for a clean DHS funding bill followed by a robust debate on immigration reform. But the Republicans have insisted on sticking to their hostage-taking tactics."
Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas has also blamed the House GOP brethren for the impasse, according to The Hill.
"They’d like to leave the hot potato with us and I think we’ve made pretty clear that we’ve tried our best and the math doesn’t work," said Cornyn.
"The question is, what does the House need in order to pass something. We’ve had three cloture votes. It’s not clear to me that a fourth, fifth or sixth cloture vote is going to move the needle."
Calling it a "a matter of arithmetic," Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake urged the House to come up with legislation that might receive some Democratic support.
"My view is we would be much better off actually debating immigration legislation than debating this spending bill," he said.
And, according to the Journal, GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said, "After we’ve tried three times it looks like we may need a fresh idea from the House."
But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia told The Hill that the chamber’s GOP members have done their part, saying: "We’ve acted. We’ve acted."
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