Senate GOP: Shutdown ‘off the table’

Senate GOP: Shutdown ‘off the table’

HERSHEY, Pa. — Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynNew GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Week ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts MORE (Texas) pledged on Thursday that Republican leaders would not allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security to expire under any circumstances.

Cornyn said Republican leaders will ensure a funding bill is signed into law by Feb. 27, when existing funding expires.

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“No more drama associated with shutting down, for example, the Department of Homeland Security. That’s off the table,” he told reporters during the joint Senate-House retreat.

“Under no circumstances will we see any shutdowns,” he said.

Congress last year approved a government funding bill that lasts through September — but it excluded the Homeland Security Department.

Republicans only approved short-term funding for that agency as a means of putting pressure on President Obama to roll back his executive action on immigration.

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that would fund the department through the end of the fiscal year but that includes controversial language blocking Obama’s orders.

The House measure would overturn actions Obama took in 2012 to allow immigrants brought to the United States as children to have legal status in the country. It would also overturn actions Obama took late last year that expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  

Republicans overwhelmingly backed the legislation in the House, though 26 GOP lawmakers voted against rolling back the 2012 language.

Some centrist Republican senators such as Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Immigration critics find their champion in Trump Trump's nominee to lead USAID has the right philosophy on international aid MORE (Ill.) worry a fight over immigration funding could shutter the agency responsible for protecting the nation at as terrorist threats are on the rise.

Cornyn said the GOP leadership has yet to finalize its game plan about how to handle the House legislation, which Democrats have vowed to block.

“As to how we proceed, I don’t know. I expect that probably we take up the House bill and see where we go from there,” he said. “We have [an] open amendment process which could well change the House bill if we get on the House bill.”

Cornyn said if Obama vetoes Homeland Security legislation that passes both chambers, “We’ll deal with that if it happens.”

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the House passed the Homeland Security appropriations bill well ahead of the deadline to avoid a last-minute standoff that could risk a shutdown.

“It is not our intent in any way. That’s why we took it up early. That’s why we fully funded it,” he said of the $40 billion bill.