GOP senators shoot down 'nuclear option' to move DHS funding bill

GOP senators shoot down 'nuclear option' to move DHS funding bill
© Greg Nash

Two GOP senators on Thursday shot down an idea floated by several House Republicans to change Senate rules in order to pass a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and reverse President Obama’s immigration actions.

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“The answer is not to change Senate rules,” Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzSenate GOP: National museum should include Clarence Thomas Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Week ahead: AT&T-Time Warner merger under scrutiny MORE (R-Texas) said at a press conference held by House and Senate conservatives. “The answer is for Senate Democrats not to be obstructionists.”

Cruz said Democrats are acting “reckless and irresponsible” for refusing to move forward on the bill that would fund the DHS.

“I don’t think that’s an option we’re looking at right now,” freshman Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) added, saying that senators should move forward according to current rules.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C) had said earlier at the event that there’s a “way to change the rules to allow us to move forward” and “take away the ability to filibuster.”

Mulvaney’s remarks follow recent comments by Reps. Mo BrooksMo BrooksHispanic leader: Trump team talk on immigration 'encouraging' Alabama rep to seek Senate appointment if Sessions joins Trump administration GOP bill would block undocumenteds from military service MORE (R-Ala.) and Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), who suggested that the Senate invoke the "nuclear option" and change its rules so that spending bills only need a simple majority to advance instead of 60 votes.

Senate Democrats have filibustered the House-passed DHS spending bill because Republicans can’t secure the 60 votes needed to open debate on the measure.

Sens. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSharpton pressures Dems on Trump nominees Trump allies warn: No compromise on immigration Could bipartisanship rise with Trump government? MORE (R-Ala.), Mike LeeMike LeeSenate GOP: National museum should include Clarence Thomas Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Will Trump back women’s museum? MORE (R-Utah), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchSenate GOP: National museum should include Clarence Thomas Mnuchin's former bank comes under scrutiny Trump’s economic team taking shape MORE (R-Utah), Roy BluntRoy BluntCould bipartisanship rise with Trump government? Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Key Republicans ask Trump to keep on NIH director MORE (R-Mo.), as well as Reps. Bill FloresBill FloresTexas lawmaker defends HGTV hosts House freshman wins RSC chair GOP opts for short-term spending bill MORE (R-Texas), Robert AderholtRobert AderholtPublic needs to know more about International Agency for Research on Cancer Chaffetz investigating taxpayers funding for flawed cancer agency GOP struggles to find women to lead House committees MORE (R-Ala.), John Carter (R-Texas) and Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnHouse votes to double budget for Planned Parenthood investigation Will Trump back women’s museum? The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Tenn.) also attended the press conference.

“The way to change what they don’t like in the bill is to bring it up,” said Lee, who said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMcConnell: Spending bill will include miners' pension fix Could bipartisanship rise with Trump government? Senate names part of Cures bill after Beau Biden MORE (R-Ky.) has allowed an open amendment process.

The Republicans accused several Senate Democrats who campaigned on opposing “executive amnesty” by Obama in last November’s elections of being "hypocritical."

“They don’t want to go on record; they want to hide from it,” Cruz said.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan delays committee assignments until 2017 Lobbying World 'Ready for Michelle' PACs urge 2020 run MORE (R-Ohio) repeated in an earlier press conference Thursday that the House had already done its job to fund the DHS and the ball is in the Senate’s court. McConnell on Tuesday, however, said it’s “obviously” up to the House to solve the impasse because the bill is “stuck” in the Senate.

Lawmakers are expected to leave Washington on Friday for a weeklong recess for Presidents Day.

Congress will have just a week left when lawmakers return before the Feb. 27 deadline to avert a shutdown at the department.