During a book-tour stop in Las Vegas, Marco Rubio said bluntly that Congress cannot allow the shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security — a remark his office later clarified did not amount to his support for the "clean" DHS funding bill demanded by the Obama administration.
"We can't let Homeland Security shut down," the Florida Republican senator told reporters, according to CNN
"Look, I'm in favor of any measure that has a chance of succeeding that could stop the new order, but the truth of the matter is the president's not going to sign that, and we don't have the votes to pass it in the Senate," said Rubio, noting that Obama has said he won't sign legislation that includes a provision blocking funding for his executive order granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.
The House has passed a measure to fund the agency, but not the programs related to the executive amnesty order. Senate Democrats have voted against cloture on the House bill on three separate occasions.
If no agreement is reached in the four or so days between the time Congress returns from its Presidents' Day recess and the agency's Feb. 27 funding deadline, money for the department will run out.
A spokesman for Rubio, one of the only potential GOP presidential contenders who favored a bipartisan immigration reform bill in the Senate, quickly corrected news reports that characterized his remarks as an endorsement for passing a "clean" bill that Obama and Democrats would support.
“Senator Rubio does not support a clean DHS funding bill that does not repeal the President’s unconstitutional executive order on immigration,” Alex Conant wrote in an email to reporters, according to Politico
A federal judge Tuesday issued an injunction blocking Obama's immigration executive action and some believed that ruling would lead to an agreement, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that Obama's unlawful order should be reason enough for Democrats to end their filibuster of the funding measure.
"This ruling underscores what the President has already acknowledged publicly 22 times: He doesn’t have the authority to take the kinds of actions he once referred to as 'ignoring the law' and 'unwise and unfair.'
"Senate Democrats — especially those who've voiced opposition to the President's executive overreach — should end their partisan filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding," said McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, in a statement
A new CNN/ORC poll
finds that if a shutdown occurs, blame would be placed on Republicans in Congress.
According to the poll, 53 percent of Americans would hold the GOP responsible for a shutdown, while 30 percent would blame Obama. Another 13 percent said both would deserve the blame.
As the deadline looms, Republicans remain divided on whether permitting a shutdown of DHS is advisable in the current global environment, and whether the GOP will pay a political price.
"I'm just not that scared of sticking to principles and filling campaign promises that we made back home, irrespective of what leadership tells us to do here," Florida Rep. Curt Clawson, who believes there is little risk involved in shutting down DHS, told The Hill
But his colleague, Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, said it is a "strategy [that] was never designed to succeed" and that the GOP has "to face the reality and do what the American public sent us here to do, which is to govern and fund the Homeland Security department."
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