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.

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 ReidDems put immigration front-and-center on convention's first day Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security Super-PAC targets Portman on trade 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 ShaheenDemocrats ‘freaked out’ about polls in meeting with Clinton GMO labeling bill advances in the Senate over Dem objections Overnight Defense: US blames ISIS for Turkey attack | Afghan visas in spending bill | Army rolls up its sleeves MORE (D-N.H.) said.

The deal to separate the spending bill from the immigration fight cost Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellProgressive group changes tone on Kaine Trump hits Kaine on TPP: He supports a 'job killer' Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ky.) Republican support.

Before voting on the clean bill, senators had to overcome an effort by Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeObama signs opioid bill Thiel said to explain support for Trump in convention speech Convention erupts at Cruz snub 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.

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