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Democrats Block DHS Bill Over Immigration Provisions

Politics Tribune News Service

Democrats Block DHS Bill Over Immigration Provisions


By Tamar Hallerman, Sarah Chacko and Jennifer Scholtes, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Democrats banded together Tuesday to block the Senate from considering a Homeland Security spending bill, leaving GOP leaders scrambling to find another path forward to challenge the president over immigration.

All 46 members of the Democratic caucus voted against cloture on the motion to proceed to the $39.7 billion measure, citing opposition to five House Republican amendments that effectively reverse executive actions on immigration or block similar orders in the future. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) also voted against cloture. Fifty-one Republicans voted in favor of opening debate on the bill, well short of the 60-vote threshold.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted no, immediately entered a motion to reconsider the vote.

The Democratic filibuster prevents McConnell from moving to the bill, forcing him and his House counterparts to come up with a Plan B to fund the Department of Homeland Security after Feb. 27. The Kentucky Republican, however, has been quiet about his next moves.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a member of GOP leadership, suggested earlier Tuesday that McConnell might bring up the House-passed bill for at least another floor vote.

“I think we’ll give them an opportunity to vote on that more than one time,” Thune said. “But using the procedural rules to keep us from even debating it I think is a disservice to people who care deeply about this issue on both sides.”

But Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that none of the alternative options that have been presented so far are “viable.”

“I’ve been in at least 20 discussions in the last 72 hours or week on this. Nobody really has a strategy yet, I’m sorry to say,” McCain told reporters earlier Tuesday.

McConnell could choose to repeat the procedural maneuvering that eventually enabled him to win passage of Keystone XL legislation last month after Democrats filibustered a similar procedural vote.

After a few days of arm-twisting, the parties eventually reached an agreement to hold additional amendment votes, winning back enough Democrats to advance the bill to passage.

Republicans say they’d be willing to consider amendments to strike the contested language, though it’s likely they would insist on 60-vote thresholds for adoption or pose motions to table, making it hard for Democrats to prevail.

Democrats are instead pushing McConnell to take up their “clean” version of the bill.

McConnell could see some benefit to running out the clock a bit more on the Homeland Security bill to inject more urgency into the debate and push his Senate colleagues to accept concessions.
The Senate is set to take a weeklong recess beginning Feb. 16 for President’s Day, leaving only about a dozen workdays left before funding runs out under the current spending agreement.

McConnell will eventually need to win over at least six Democrats to advance a spending bill, and in order to do so he will likely need to strip the House immigration riders — or significantly alter the House-passed bill. That will likely anger conservatives in both the House and Senate, but the timing pinch could provide him with some political cover.

Democrats are also working to get out ahead of GOP accusations that they are the ones to blame for holding up Homeland Security funding.

Before the Senate’s procedural vote, seven Democratic senators joined Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for a news conference urging Republicans to pass a clean bill.

“Don’t hold hostage the American people being secure and say: ‘Unless you do it our way, we’re going to shut down the government,'” Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said. “The American people simply shouldn’t have to pay a ransom to have the Homeland Security Department fully staffed and fully functioning.”

Schumer and his Democratic colleagues said they are committed to blocking efforts, at every juncture, to debate the legislation as long as it includes extra immigration language.

“The simplest, easiest way to move forward is for the Republican leadership to stare down the extreme members of their party, led by Senator (Ted) Cruz, and work with Democrats to pass a Homeland Security bill, keep our nation safe, and then debate immigration,” Schumer said.

Across the Capitol, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) challenged Senate border hawks and more centrist Democrats who had previously said they opposed the president’s executive actions on immigration to vote for the House-passed DHS bill.

“It’s time for Senator Cruz and Senator (Jeff) Sessions, and Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats, to stand together with the American people and block the president’s actions,” he told reporters Tuesday morning.

Boehner brushed off questions about a potential short-term continuing resolution for DHS.

“Why don’t we wait until the United States Senate acts and then we can decide what the next steps are? I don’t know what they’re gonna do,” he said.

When asked about a potential 30- or 60-day continuing resolution, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) said, “Everything’s on the table and there’s been no conclusions drawn yet.”
(Tim Starks and Emma Dumain contributed to this report.)

Photo: ehpien via Flickr



  1. Gary Miles February 3, 2015

    Just shut the DHS down, FOREVER.

  2. joe schmo February 3, 2015

    🙂 Awwww….. What’s the matter Dems? Good luck getting these people through the woodwork. Guess you are really desperate for the votes…… Veto away. It won’t resolve a thing..

    1. itsfun February 4, 2015

      Amazing how the filibuster was such a terrible thing when the Republicans used it, and how wonderful of a thing it is when the Democrats use it.

  3. Dominick Vila February 4, 2015

    Considering that the only benefit we have gotten from Bush’s Department of Homeland Security is another bureaucracy, delaying appropriations will have no impact whatsoever on our national security. The latter is protected by the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, the NSA, the military, and all the other law enforcement agencies.
    Linking an immigration rider to the DHS is an example of the infantile and irresponsible tactics used by politicians to get their way and, in some cases, give the illusion that they are doing something to satisfy the desires of their constituents when, in fact, they are only supporting the status quo.
    Illegal immigration is a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed, preferably, by pragmatic adults focused on short and long term solutions. Building higher and longer walls has solved nothing. Reagan’s amnesty encouraged more people to enter the USA illegally and, therefore, solved nothing. President Obama’s deportation record only encouraged coyotes to find a different way to take their “customers” to their destination, and solved nothing. The solution involves finding a way to satisfy the demand for semi-skilled workers in some sectors of our economy, without rewarding those who have broken our laws by granting them permanent residency or a path to citizenship. Most importantly, we must review and change our immigration laws to reflect our labor needs in a way that does not make it necessary for people to break our laws.

    1. GraceAdams830 February 4, 2015

      Replacing fossil fuel with renewable energy would do more for our national security than anything the Department of Homeland Security can do. So far the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been outperformed by private non-profits like Occupy Sandy.

  4. DAK27 February 4, 2015

    “I think we’ll give them an opportunity to vote on that more than one time,” Thune said. “But using the procedural rules to keep us from even debating it I think is a disservice to people who care deeply about this issue on both sides.”

    But it was A-OK when the GOP did the exact same thing when you guys were the minority, right? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Tough cookies so sit down, shut up and get to work.

  5. kG February 4, 2015

    Good news for all of you Obami socialists and wealth redistributers, the IRS just admitted that the five million law breaker illegals given amnesty by this criminal president will be eligible to file for back taxes for three years,with child credit exemptions .They will receive fat pay day ,up to $8,880 per year!curtesy of your taxes and a gift from the Democratic Party. Most of the money will probably find its way to Latin America. More and more for welfare illegals, out of our pockets!

    1. jmprint February 4, 2015

      But just think you will be able to keep your SSI, because they will be paying into it.

      1. kG February 4, 2015

        I am in my early forties , there will be nothing left by the time I am 67. K Obamai can give it all away. Who gives a tart!

        1. jmprint February 4, 2015

          I’m not retired either, but I fear the republicans will abolish it before I get to retire, I know they will probably move the age limit to 75 by the time I’m 65. President Obama doesn’t give it away. I think you are fearing the wrong administration.

          1. kG February 4, 2015

            You don’t see anything wrong with these law breakers getting to jump in front of the line ahead of millions who have been waiting in line , plus getting a fat reward for breaking our laws. Have you no principals or respect for the laws of the country, something called the constitution? Honestly, would you support Ted Cruz if he outlawed abortions?

  6. James Bowen February 4, 2015

    There should be no plan B–defund, or no bill at all.

  7. Jack Reacher February 5, 2015

    In their reactionary war against civilization, today’s liberals use three main attack vectors:-Attacking the family-Attacking private property-Attacking Christianity

  8. angelsinca February 5, 2015

    Democrats blocking the Senate from considering bill. Insert surprise face.


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