Shutdown looms as Dems block DHS bill
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Senate Democrats have for the fourth time blocked legislation that would fund Homeland Security and reverse President Obama’s immigration orders, leaving lawmakers at an impasse with just five days to go until a partial government shutdown.

Democrats held together on Monday in the 47-46 vote, leaving Republicans short of the 60 votes they needed to bring the House-passed funding bill up for debate. As he had done before, Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) joined Democrats in voting against moving to the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists MORE (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for refusing to allow work on the legislation, saying their obstructionist tactics are standing in the way of a funding solution.

"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."

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Democrats remained unified behind their push for a “clean” bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) without changing Obama’s immigration orders, which provide deferred deportations and work visas to illegal immigrants.

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Memo: Biden seeks a secret weapon — GOP voters Tensions flare over Senate filibuster McConnell offers scathing 'scorched earth' filibuster warning MORE (D-Nev.) said Republicans aren't listening to voices in their own party who have suggested DHS funding should be separated from the immigration fight.

"Even [Sens. Jeff] Flake, [Lindsey] Graham, [John] McCain, have stated that we should fund Homeland Security," Reid said during a floor speech. "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.”

The blame game is beginning to ramp up ahead of the Feb. 27 deadline for funding DHS and associated agencies like the Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs Service and the Secret Service.

President Obama and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson have repeatedly warned that a lapse in DHS funding would jeopardize national security.

“The clock is ticking and as I stand here, there is nothing from Congress to fund us beyond [Feb. 27],” Johnson said Monday at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters in Washington. “A shutdown of Homeland Security would have serious consequences and amount to a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland.”

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

Johnson also warned against passing a one-or-two-month continuing resolution that would temporarily fund DHS, something that has been floated in recent days.

“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,” Johnson 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.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have assailed Democrats for closing ranks around Obama’s executive orders, noting that many of them had previously warned against unilateral action to ease deportations.

"It's time for Democrats to stop defending the president and the White House," Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows As Congress considers infrastructure, don't forget rural America MORE (R-Wyo.) said ahead of Monday’s vote.

"Congress is the appropriate place to make laws about America's immigration policy," he said. "The president cannot make a new law just because he doesn't like the laws made by Congress." 

The funding battle comes as al-Shabab called for terrorist attacks at malls across the United States, including the Mall of America in Minnesota.

“I'm saying that the public needs to be particularly vigilant,” Johnson said during an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” But, the secretary added that he isn’t saying that people should avoid going to the mall.

Where lawmakers will go next on the funding bill is unclear.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said Republicans will likely face “tough choices” in deciding how to fund the department.

“It’s up to the Senate to determine what they send back to the House and we'll probably see something come back from the Senate this week and then we have to make some tough choices,” he said Monday during an interview Monday on CNN’s “This Hour.”

Senate Republicans are considering a strategy to consider some of the immigration riders separately from the DHS funding bill, but it’s unclear whether conservatives would back that plan.

On the other side of the Capitol, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCruz on Boehner: 'I wear with pride his drunken, bloviated scorn' Boehner on Clinton impeachment: 'I regret that I didn't fight against it' Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (R-Ohio) could lay out the next steps House Republicans might take during a Wednesday conference meeting.

— Updated at 6:20 p.m.