House GOP floats three-week funding bill to stave off shutdown

House GOP floats three-week funding bill to stave off shutdown
© Greg Nash

The House will try to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security this week by passing a stopgap bill that funds the agency for three weeks.

The measure is meant to buy time for Republicans to figure out how to fight President Obama’s immigration policies, GOP leaders told members on Thursday.

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The three-week measure would stave off a shutdown at the agency slated for 12:01 a.m. Saturday, but it’s only a temporary fix. Republicans say it would give them a chance to pursue a longer-term solution and iron out differences between House and Senate funding bills.

The House last month passed a bill funding Homeland Security through September but attached GOP amendments aimed at gutting Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The Senate is poised to pass a so-called “clean” funding bill as soon as Friday that is free of those same GOP immigration provisions.

House Republicans want a House-Senate conference committee to try to find common ground between the two measures. But Senate Democrats are continuing to insist that they’ll only back a clean funding bill, and could vote to block the Senate from going to conference.

GOP lawmakers also said a three-week continuing resolution (CR) buys more time for the federal courts to consider a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obama’s policies, which would shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The Senate “will send us back their opinion, we have our opinion, and in regular order, Congress is suppose to reconcile these differences by conference,” said former House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). “And I think a healthy public debate and a conference is good for America.”

House Democrats have been cool to the idea of a short-term funding bill, but many will prefer it to a shutdown.

However, a CR will lose many conservatives in the chamber who see that strategy as capitulating to Obama in the immigration fight.

“If we put a CR resolution, at this point, I'm a strong no against it,” conservative freshman Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) told The Hill. “We have planted a credibility flag in the ground and for us to bail right now really hurts us.”