House Republicans resist call to change course on DHS funding

A pair of GOP senators implored House Republicans Thursday to soften their stance in the intra-party dispute over funding the Department of Homeland Security.
 
Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerRepublicans jockey for position on immigration Bipartisan bill would toughen North Korea sanctions, require Trump's strategy GOP senators push for delay of ObamaCare insurer tax MORE (R-Colo.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoLawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed It's time to eliminate the secretive Pharmacy Benefit Manager pricing practices MORE (R-W.Va.), who both formerly served in the lower chamber, stressed to the House GOP conference behind closed doors that the Senate can’t get the 60 votes it needs to advance the House-passed DHS funding bill that includes language to reverse President Obama's executive actions on immigration.
 
"They lamented the frustration they're having getting up to 60 votes. But apparently that is the strategy now with the Democrat minority is to block everything over there," Rep. John FlemingJohn FlemingCoast Guard suspends search for missing Ohio plane Freedom Caucus member to bring up bill on impeaching IRS chief GOP seeks to make it 52 MORE (R-La.) said after the meeting.
 

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Despite the senators’ appeal to their former colleagues, House Republicans said their conference is sticking with the original strategy.
 
They told Gardner and Capito to tell Senate GOP leaders to keep trying to move the House-passed bill, Fleming said, despite three failed votes last week.
 
"Our message back to them ... we asked them to take this back, our bill is our bill. This is what we passed. This is what we expect you to pass. So get it done," Fleming said.
 
Aides said GOP leaders' message to rank-and-file members was clear: We're staying the course.
 
“I think the Speaker’s position is, and our position is, that the House has already acted. It’s time for the Senate to act,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the House Budget Committee.
 
“I don’t hear any deviation among my colleagues,” Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) said. “It’s the Senate’s job to take up an appropriations bill that we passed through our process. The Democrats in the Senate have a calculated strategy to deny that funding ... so the ball’s in the Senate’s court, and more particularly, the Democrats in the Senate. They’re the ones putting this country in jeopardy, not the House.”

On Tuesday, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) said it's "obviously" up to the House now to send a different spending bill back to the Senate because Senate Democrats have repeatedly blocked the bill in the upper chamber.
 
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), meantime, attended the Senate GOP conference lunch Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue over DHS funding.
 
Congress has about seven days left in session before the Feb. 27 deadline to fund the department. Both chambers will be on recess all five days next week. One Republican inside the meeting suggested canceling the recess, Fleming said, but both chambers are still on track to leave town Friday.
 
Some GOP lawmakers have raised the idea of passing another short-term continuing resolution (CR) funding the DHS to give the GOP more time to figure out its plans and prevent a government shutdown.
 
But when asked if a CR or shutdown is becoming more likely, multiple House Republicans reiterated that the Senate should take up the bill the House already passed in January.
 
Some centrists, however, think it's time to move on.
 
"At some point, we're going to have to pass something closer to a clean or cleaner bill," said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who was one of the 26 Republicans to vote against provisions to freeze the 2012 program allowing illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for work permits.

—Scott Wong contributed

This story was updated at 3:36 p.m.