Senate

Senate GOP blocks bill to reopen Homeland Security

Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Friday that would have temporarily reopened the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked to take up a House-passed bill that would fund the department through Feb. 8. It's the third time Democrats have tried to bring up the stopgap measure.

But Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) objected to the request "on behalf of the majority leader," referring to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

It's the third time McConnell has blocked the bill to temporarily reopen DHS, which is at the center of the shutdown fight. He's also blocked a bill that would reopen the rest of the impacted departments and agencies three times, most recently on Thursday. 

McConnell has warned for weeks that he will not let the Senate take up any government funding bill that isn't the product of a deal between congressional Democrats and Trump, arguing they would amount to "show votes."

"There's no way around it. Having show votes in the Senate doesn't solve the problem," McConnell told reporters Tuesday. 

But Democrats are trying to build pressure on the Senate GOP leader, who has remained publicly on the sidelines amid the stalemate between Trump and Democrats.

"Senate Republicans again in a few minutes, at the request of President Trump, who does not yet want this to happen, will object to that request," Kaine said on Friday before he tried to pass the DHS bill.

"If the issue in dispute is border security ... then why punish the very people who are providing that safety and security? How does it help promote safety and security to not pay the very border patrol agents charged with protecting the border?" Kaine asked.

Kaine is expected to come back to the floor multiple times next week to try to get the House bills passed. He's also forcing the Senate to hold a rare Saturday session.

Under the Senate rules any one senator can ask for consent to vote on or pass a bill. A single senator can also block that request.

The back-and-forth on the Senate floor comes as the shutdown is expected to enter its 30th day on Sunday with no clear path forward.

Roughly a quarter of the government has been shut down since Dec. 22 over an entrenched fight on funding for Trump's proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Trump is demanding more than $5 billion for his signature wall. Democratic leadership has pointed to $1.3 billion as their cap and argued that it must go to fencing.

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