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.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle 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 ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSupreme Court to hear online sales tax case State official indicates US military role in Syria post-ISIS centered on Iran Overnight Health Care: Dems press HHS pick on drug prices | Alexander, Trump discuss ObamaCare fix | Senate Dems seek B to fight opioids | Maryland eyes ObamaCare mandate replacement MORE (D-N.H.) said.

The deal to separate the spending bill from the immigration fight cost Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) Republican support.

Before voting on the clean bill, senators had to overcome an effort by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle With religious liberty memo, Trump made America free to be faithful again This week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown 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.