Mitch McConnell Offers New Plan to Avoid Shutdown of Department of Homeland Security

PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 12, 2014, to meet with new GOP senators-elect.J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 12, 2014, to meet with new GOP senators-elect.

With four days left until funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to expire, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today he is prepared to hold a vote on a clean bill to fund the department through the end of the fiscal year without any immigration provisions attached.

“I’ve indicated to the Democratic leader that I’d be happy to have his cooperation to advance a consideration of a clean DHS bill which would carry us through September 30th,” McConnell said at a news conference at the Ohio Clock today. “With Democratic cooperation on a position they have been advocating for the last two months, we could have that vote very quickly.”

In addition to the vote on the clean DHS funding bill, McConnell would have the Senate vote on a separate measure that would specifically halt funding to carry out President Obama’s executive actions on immigration -- an issue that has been the main cause for the current impasse over funding. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a funding measure that includes provisions to block the president's immigration actions from taking effect, but Senate Democrats have filibustered moving forward on the bill.

Senate Democrats have long advocated for a clean funding bill, but they aren’t ready to agree to a vote on it just yet. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who met with McConnell this morning, said he wants House Speaker John Boehner to sign onto the proposal.

“We have to make sure we get a bill to the president, not that we send a hot potato to Boehner. That doesn't do the trick,” Reid said. “We have said for 4 weeks now, we must fund Homeland Security. We can't do it alone. It's a bicameral legislature. Unless Boehner’s in on the deal, it won't happen.”

Before agreeing to a vote on a clean funding measure, Senate Democrats want assurances from Boehner that he would in fact hold a vote on the bill.

“It leaves in suspense and in doubt because we could be back in this same predicament 24 hours from now,” said Sen Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. “We want to solve the problem, not just create the next chapter in this political saga.”

The plan could be a way to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, but it will be a tough sell among some House Republicans who insist on tying immigration to any DHS funding bill.

“There are some on the Republican caucus who don’t vote for anything that doesn’t somehow undo the president’s executive order,” Durbin said.

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security expires on Friday.