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 CruzTrump in campaign mode at NRA convention Trump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit Schumer: Trump's handling of North Korea 'all wrong' 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 BrooksThe Hill's Whip List: 21 GOP no votes on new ObamaCare replacement bill Freedom Caucus gets to yes on healthcare Centrists push back on new ObamaCare repeal plan 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.

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“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 McConnellStudy: Trump tops recent GOP presidents in signing bills in first 100 days Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again 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 BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection 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.