Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked, for the third time in as many days, a Homeland Security spending measure that would also torpedo President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Similar to the previous two votes, Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerWeek ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Obama-linked group launches ads targeting Republicans on immigration Nevada Dem rep considering Senate run against Heller MORE (R-Nev.) joined nearly every Senate Democrat in opposing the roughly $40 billion spending bill. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellJuan Williams: Trump's 100 days wound GOP Judd Gregg: Trump gets his sea legs This week: Congress returns to government shutdown fight MORE (R-Ky.) switched his vote from "yes" to "no" in order to preserve his ability to bring the measure to the floor again.
McConnell cast the vote as just the latest example of Democratic obstruction, openly wondering why Democrats wouldn’t even be willing to debate the measure.
Still, McConnell isn’t yet worried, at least openly, about the Homeland Security Department running out of funding at the end of the month. “We'll resolve this sometime in the next few weeks,” he said on the Senate floor.
The funding measure has turned out to be one of the key early tests of the House and Senate GOP’s ability to work together, after years of seeking full control on Capitol Hill.
The White House this week is laying the ground to blame Republicans for a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security agency if a funding bill is not approved.
The House bill would gut both Obama’s action in 2012 to stave off deportation for some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children and his order late last year to give work permits to millions of illegal immigrants.
In its present form, it is dead on arrival in the Senate, and Obama has said he would veto it.
Division over the bill has been apparent on the GOP side, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) pitching a plan Wednesday to block only Obama’s 2014 action, not the 2012 order, as part of a Homeland Security funding measure.
For their part, Democrats insisted Thursday that they’ll only accept a clean measure funding the Homeland Security Department, at a time when leaders in both parties have said they’re worried about the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) proposed Thursday that the Senate pass funding for Homeland Security, and then bring up the 2013 immigration reform bill for debate.
And Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) made it clear that the Democrats wouldn’t do the GOP any favors as House and Senate Republicans tried to plot a path forward.
Schumer said that House Republicans had been asking the Senate to prove that it wouldn’t take up their bill.
“Well, we won’t,” Schumer said. “We are not into hostage-taking.”
Republicans are in the majority now and are responsible for finding a way out, Schumer added, while also brushing aside Collins’s proposal.
“All Sen. Collins is doing is saying ‘what is the size of the ransom, but we’re still doing hostage-taking.’” Schumer added.
Rebecca Shabad contributed.