On Tuesday Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) told the National Journal that a failure to fund DHS and any consequences resulting from such a failure “should be laid at the feet of the Democratic caucus.”
This is a departure from what Senator Kirk, who is considered a moderate, told Politico early in January. “I think the defunding action leads us to a potential government shutdown scenario, which is a self-inflicted political wound for Republicans,” Kirk said.
As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and a handful of moderate Senate Republicans have said the DHS funding bill sent to the Senate by the House has no chance of passing with the unrelated provisions undoing the president’s executive orders on immigration attached.
McConnell has called on John Boehner and House Republicans to send a clean funding bill to the Senate, because the bill with the immigration amendments cannot pass there.
“We can’t get on it, we can’t offer amendments to it,” McConnell told Politico on Tuesday. “And the next step is obviously up to the House.”
Boehner remains defiant however. “The House did its job,” he said on Wednesday. “Why don’t you go ask the Senate Democrats when they’re going to get off their ass and do something other than to vote no?”
Time is running out to pass the bill or, failing that, to pass a continuing resolution before the DHS runs out of funding on February 27. Should funding run out, a partial shutdown of the department would be unavoidable.
Of the 230,000 people employed by Homeland Security all but about 15 percent are considered “essential” and would be required to continue to work without pay, and about 34,500 would be furloughed.
“House Republicans refuse to admit the dangerous collapse of their anti-immigrant grandstand,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday. “Republicans should stop holding our homeland security hostage and bring forward a clean, long-term funding bill immediately.”
While the House bill plays well to the Republican base, it may not be so well received by most Americans, who are not willing to sacrifice Homeland Security in an attempt to undo all the president’s executive actions on the immigration issue, another issue that Congressional Republicans have refused to discuss.