WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders on Thursday floated a plan to pass a short-term bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security, avert a partial shutdown and prompt negotiations with the Senate, which is poised to pass its own measure to fund the agency
The leadership pitched the plan in a closed-door meeting with House Republicans. The party’s conservative wing is livid over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to hold a vote Friday on a DHS bill without provisions to block President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, outlined a three-week DHS funding measure, which would buy House and Senate lawmakers enough time to resolve differences between the two bills, according to Republicans who attended the meeting.
If Congress doesn’t act by Friday’s close, some 30,000 DHS employees would be furloughed from a department that includes the Border Patrol, Secret Service, Coast Guard and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Those agencies would continue to function with workers who wouldn’t receive paychecks during a shutdown.
“I don’t think we should cram a decision up against a deadline,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said after he left the meeting. “They (the Senate) are going to send back their opinion. We have our opinion, and in regular order Congress is supposed to reconcile these differences by conference. The speaker has offered a very reasoned way to create space with the Senate to have that debate.”
Issa said the reception to Boehner’s plan among House Republicans “was very good,” adding “a clean (temporary funding measure) for three weeks should enjoy universal bipartisan support.”
However, response to Boehner’s plan was tepid on the Senate side of the Capitol. Thursday evening, McConnell, R-Ky., began the process of teeing up his plan for separate votes Friday morning on a DHS funding bill, minus immigration riders and a measure that would halt Obama’s 2014 executive order on immigration. The order would shield more than four million immigrants from deportation.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., indicated earlier in the day that a conference over two bills was a non-starter. Reid’s office noted Thursday night that it takes 60 votes in the Senate to agree to a conference.
“It is a waste of time,” Reid told reporters. “We will not allow a conference to take place.”
Earlier in the day, House Republicans appeared at odd with some pressing for a vote on “clean” bill to fully fund DHS and other imploring their party’s leadership to hold the line against a bill that doesn’t address Obama’s immigration actions.
Boehner offered no clues earlier Thursday on what he intended to do. At his weekly news conference, the speaker blamed congressional Democrats and Obama’s immigration policies for the potential shutdown.
“It is not a fight amongst Republicans,” Boehner said. “All Republicans agree that we want to fund the Department of Homeland Security and we want to stop the president’s executive actions with regard to immigration.”
Noting the differences between the House and the Senate, Boehner said that McConnell “has his challenges and I have mine.”
“And we have two different institutions that don’t have the same body temperature every day,” Boehner said. “The House, by nature and by design, is a hell of a lot more rambunctious place than the Senate — much more.”
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