House could vote Tuesday on funding Homeland Security

The House could vote Tuesday on a bill that averts a partial shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and funds the agency through September, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told GOP lawmakers in a closed-door caucus meeting.

{mosads}The legislation has already passed the Senate and would not include language reversing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, as conservatives have demanded.

Obama has indicated he would sign the bill.

Boehner’s plans to move on a so-called “clean” funding bill follows months of infighting between centrist and conservative Republicans over the best strategy to roll back Obama’s immigration actions. A low point came Friday, when 52 conservatives rejected a plan by the Speaker to extend DHS funding for three weeks; Boehner was forced to rely on Democrats at the last minute to stave off a shutdown.

“We have to fund DHS and the sooner we do it, the better,” former House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) said after emerging from the caucus meeting. “It ends this madness, it ends the malaise … The sooner it’s done, the better. Get it behind us.”

After laying out his new strategy Tuesday morning, Boehner asked three times whether anyone had any questions before he had to leave for his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No one said a word, according to members in the room.

But outside the meeting, conservatives blasted leadership’s decision to wave the white flag.

“He just caved in there,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a frequent critic of the House GOP leadership, said of Boehner. “Nothing else we can do. This is his strategy. Clearly, it failed.”

Boehner told his conference that Republicans’ best shot to stop Obama’s immigration policies is now in the courts, after a federal judge from Texas ruled that the policies are unconstitutional. The Obama administration has appealed that decision.

Still, House conservatives said they would huddle as early as Tuesday to try to come up with another legislative strategy to combat Obama’s immigration policies, which would shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

“I’m going … to devise some fresh strategy and going back to work,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an immigration hardliner.

Republicans might choose to bring up the “clean” DHS using an obscure House rule, known as Rule 22, that would allow any lawmaker to bring it up under a “privileged resolution,” thereby bypassing a procedural vote on a rule and fast-tracking it to the floor.

“I’m not sure of any other mechanism other than that right now to be able to go to a quick vote on a bill just for voting alone,” Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) told reporters after the meeting.

Garrett and other lawmakers predicted the “clean” bill would pass, with help from most Democrats and some Republicans.

There had been earlier reports that Democrats would try and force a vote on the clean vote using the rule. But GOP lawmakers said it may be a Republican who introduces the resolution.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if one of [Boehner’s] Republican buddies offered the motion and not coming from the other side,” Huelskamp said.

Holding the vote on Tuesday would also mean the news would compete with coverage of Netanyahu’s controversial speech to a joint session of Congress, something GOP leaders might not mind.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in an important case challenging ObamaCare. Coverage of that case could also steer coverage away from Homeland Security, where news stories have been focused on division within the Republican Party.

The Senate sent back the clean bill to the House on Monday evening after Senate Democrats successfully blocked a motion to form a conference committee with the House.

On Tuesday morning, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the bill would come to the House floor no later than Thursday.

Cole predicted a “significant bipartisan majority” would vote for the clean bill.

The House is scheduled to leave town on Thursday for a weeklong recess. Democrats want to finish DHS by Thursday because many are traveling to Selma, Ala. on Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march.

–This report was updated at 10:57 a.m.

Tags Homeland security Illegal immigration Immigration John Boehner
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