WASHINGTON — House and Senate Republicans aren’t getting any closer to bridging their differences over funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
House Speaker John Boehner again insisted on Sunday that the “House has done its job” and the cards are in the Senate’s hands, Sens. John McCain and Bob Corker urged their fellow Republicans pass a bill without letting the agency’s funding lapse. McCain pressed for a measure that will fund the homeland security agency without wading into the choppy political waters of immigration.
House Republicans have already passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, but that bill is dead on arrival in both the Senate and on President Barack Obama’s desk because it would also reverse his executive actions on immigration aimed at shielding millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said “it would be terrible” for funding for the agency to wither because of a political fight over Obama’s executive action.
“There are ways we can address what the President, did [which] was unconstitutional, but it’s not through shutting down the Department of Homeland Security,” McCain said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s too serious.”
The fight over funding the agency comes at a time of heightened concerns over terror threats in the wake of terrorist attacks in Western cities and a foiled terror plot in Canada this week. And on Saturday, a shooting in Copenhagen, Denmark, also appeared to have been a terrorist act.
“The American people didn’t give us the majority to have a fight between House and Senate Republicans,” McCain said.
But Boehner, under pressure from a coalition of ardent conservatives in the House, was steadfast in an interview Sunday on Fox News.
“The Constitution makes it pretty clear that the House has to do its work and the Senate has to do theirs. The House has acted to fund the department and to stop the President’s overreach when it comes to immigration and his executive orders,” Boehner said. “It’s their turn.”
That’s a stark contrast from what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week.
“It’s clear we can’t go forward in the Senate” on a bill that would reverse Obama’s immigration actions, he said.
Boehner, however, said he is prepared to allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security to run out, and said Senate Democrats should be blamed if that happens.
“Senate Democrats are the ones standing in the way, they’re the ones jeopardizing funding, why don’t they get on the bill or offer an amendment, offer their ideas,” Boehner said.
In a statement Sunday reacting to Boehner, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Boehner was misreading the political optics of his maneuvering.
“When Speaker Boehner tied immigration to DHS funding he knew exactly what he was doing, saying, ‘Unless I get my way, I’m going to shut down a large part of the government,'” said Schumer, a Democratic messaging leader. “To now blame Democrats when members of his own party, conservative leaders and others, have all asked him to back off this game of chicken is disingenuous at best.”
Indeed, even fellow Republican, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that allowing the agency shut down was not an option.
“I’ll be the first to say when we have a department whose mission is to protect the homeland especially in these times, we need to fund it,” Corker said. “It needs to be funded, we do not need to leave our nation in a situation with the type of threats that we have with an agency that’s not working at full steam. It needs to be resolved and I think it will be.”