Senate passes 'clean' DHS bill
© Francis Rivera

The Senate on Friday passed a "clean" bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as both chambers of Congress rushed to avoid a partial government shutdown at midnight.

The legislation, passed 68-31, would fund the department through the end of the fiscal year, and doesn't include the immigration riders that caused a weekslong legislative stalemate.

But while the Senate has now voted to fund DHS through September, the fight over funding is far from over.

The House is set to vote Friday on a short-term funding measure to keep DHS open until March 19, buying time for conference negotiations with the Senate on a final bill.

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If the stopgap bill passes the House, as expected, the Senate is expected to quickly approve it to keep Homeland Security agencies funded. But Democrats have vowed to block the conference committee, creating the potential for a new legislative stalemate that could threaten a shutdown in March.

"We will not go to conference on some jury-rigged situation they send back," Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Hill's 12:30 Report Hopes rise for law to expand access to experimental drugs If Gorsuch pick leads to 'crisis,' Dems should look in mirror first MORE (D-Nev.) said from the Senate floor.

Democrats suggested senators couldn't afford to vote against the "clean" DHS bill in the wake of a string of terrorist attacks around the world.

"Our enemies are watching, now it's time to defend America," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenDem senator asks for 'top to bottom' review of Syria policy A guide to the committees: Senate Mattis on rise in Trump administration MORE (D-N.H.) said.

The deal to separate the spending bill from the immigration fight cost Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThough flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance Sanders: 'If you don't have the guts to face your constituents,' you shouldn't be in Congress McConnell: Trump's speech should be 'tweet free' MORE (R-Ky.) Republican support.

Before voting on the clean bill, senators had to overcome an effort by Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeLessons from the godfather of regulatory budgeting Congress must reform civil asset forfeiture laws A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Utah) that, if successful, would have effectively killed the agreement by McConnell and Reid to separate the immigration and funding fights.

Lee said that senators needed to undo Obama's 2014 immigration actions in an effort to protect the Constitution.

"I implore all of my colleagues to remember themselves as operating within a constitutional framework, in which far more than your status as a Democrat or as a Republican, as a liberal or as a conservative, you're here to defend your own power, your own authority given by your own people," Lee said during a speech from the Senate floor.

— Updated at 12:08 p.m.