Senate Dems block conference on DHS

Senate Democrats on Monday blocked the formation of a conference committee with the House to agree to funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

If the 47-43 procedural vote had been successful, senators would have moved immediately to a final vote on the motion to go to conference with the House.


Lawmakers on Friday passed a one-week spending bill to avoid a DHS shutdown. Republicans hoped to use the extra time to reach a deal with senators on longer-term department funding and legislation to roll back President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

But Democrats vowed repeatedly to block any attempt to go to conference, arguing the Congress should approve a clean bill funding the agency — without immigration measures attached.

Senate Republicans don’t have the 60 votes necessary to overcome the filibuster.

“This push by House Republicans to go to conference is the very definition of an exercise in futility,” Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidVoters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama Mellman: Are independents really so independent? MORE said from the Senate floor. “They want to turn it into something that cannot pass. ... We will not be a party to yet another charade by House Republicans.”

How the two sides will reach an agreement by the end of Friday to fund the DHS and avoid a shutdown is unclear, though House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Monday that House Democrats expect Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a clean funding bill to the floor this week. 

Senators also voted 58-31 on Monday to send the "clean" bill funding DHS through the end of the fiscal year back to the House.