Reid, McConnell point fingers ahead of fourth Homeland Security vote

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) each blamed the other for the stalemate on funding the Department of Homeland Security minutes before a key vote. 

Senators will vote for a fourth time at 5:30 p.m. to formally start debate on the spending bill. But with lawmakers still divided along party lines, Republicans are expected to fail to win the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Democratic filibuster. 

{mosads}McConnell said Monday’s vote presents Democrats with an opportunity “to show where they stand” following U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling last week to temporarily block the new immigration programs. 

“The point is, it’s time to allow this Homeland Security funding measure to come to the floor,” McConnell said. “… Let’s take this funding bill up, and get to work.”

Reid suggested that Republicans were refusing to listen to Democrats, President Obama, administration officials, and even members of their own party. 

“Even [Sens. Jeff] Flake, [Lindsey] Graham, [John] McCain, have stated that we should fund Homeland Security,” he said. “We have all kinds of Republican senators who have said the same thing the last few days. … I don’t understand what my Republican friends are trying to do here.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned Monday about the fallout from a potential department shutdown.

“A shutdown of Homeland Security would have serious consequences and amount to a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland,” he said during a speech at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters in Washington.

If the department shuts down, Johnson said that 75 to 80 percent of DHS staffers will be forced to work without pay and an additional 30,000 employees would be furloughed.

Lawmakers could pass a one-or-two-month continuing resolution which would temporarily fund the department at last year’s spending levels. But Johnson said such a move would have “severe” consequences. 

“To those in Congress who may be contemplating punting, or kicking the can a few weeks down the road, I must remind you that the consequences to this department, if we remain on a continuing resolution, are also severe,” he said. “We’re restricted to last year’s funding levels if we’re on a continuing resolution, and most operate in a state of uncertainty.”

Reid, siding with Johnson, said a continuing resolution is “not the answer.”

“It is important that we fully fund this agency and do it now,” he said. 

Tags Harry Reid Homeland security Illegal immigration Immigration Mitch McConnell

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