McConnell: DHS ball now in House's court

McConnell: DHS ball now in House's court
© Francis Rivera

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellLawmakers push one-week stopgap funding bill Overnight Finance: Inside Trump's tax plan | White House mulls order pulling out of NAFTA | New fight over Dodd-Frank begins Dem rep: Trump's tax plan as believable as 'magic, unicorns or Batman' MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that the House has to make the next move on funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“The next move obviously is up to the House,” McConnell said following a Senate GOP conference lunch. 

“It’s clear we can’t get on the bill. We can’t offer amendments to the bill. And I think it would be pretty safe to say we’re stuck because of Democratic obstruction on the Senate side. I think it’s clear we can’t go forward in the Senate, unless you’ve all heard something I haven’t,” he added. 

McConnell declined to say whether the most likely option is a short-term continuing resolution (CR) funding Homeland Security, but repeated, “It’s clearly stuck in the Senate.” 

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A number of Senate Republicans have said the ball now lies in the House’s court.

Following the Senate GOP leadership press conference, Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page MORE (R-Texas) was asked whether Congress will ultimately pass a “clean” DHS spending bill that excludes riders that would reverse President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. 

“I have no doubt that the Department of Homeland Security will be funded,” he said in response. 

House GOP leaders, however, have said the Senate is responsible for resolving the funding debate. Democrats filibustered the bill three days in a row last week, preventing the upper chamber from opening debate on the measure.

The House-passed bill at issue would roll back Obama’s 2012 order creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that defers deportations for people who came to the U.S. illegally as children. It would also reverse the immigration actions the president announced in November. 

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE’s (R-Ohio) spokesman, Michael Steel, said the House can’t do much until Democrats stop blocking the GOP bill.

“The House has passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security and block the president's unilateral executive action on immigration. Now, the pressure is on Senate Democrats who claim to oppose the president's action but are filibustering a bill to stop it. Until there is some signal from those Senate Democrats what would break their filibuster, there's little point in additional House action.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) spokesman, Drew Hammill, said the GOP's tactics to upend Obama's actions would not be successful. 

“With only seven legislative days left before the funding for the Department of Homeland Security lapses, it should be clear to every House Republican what has been clear to the entire country for some time now: their extreme anti-immigrant riders are dead and cannot pass the Senate," he said. "It’s time for the House to pass a clean DHS funding proposal and stop playing games with the safety of the American people.”

Congress has about eight days remaining in session before the Feb. 27 deadline to fund DHS. Both chambers will be in recess next week.  

— Scott Wong and Laura Barron-Lopez contributed. This story was updated at 4:45 p.m.