For the third consecutive day, Senate Democrats blocked Republicans from beginning debate on a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security and cut off spending for President Obamas executive actions on immigration.
Democrats successfully prevented the House-approved bill from moving forward on Thursday with a 53-47 vote, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move past the procedural hurdle. The same occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The department will run out of money on Feb. 27 if Congress doesnt pass a bill. But Democrats say theyll continue to oppose the current DHS funding bill as long as it includes riders to roll back Obamas recent immigration actions that would provide deportation reprieve and work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) referred to those immigration riders as bill killers and urged House Republicans to support a clean DHS funding bill introduced by Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
Weve now had three votes, Feinstein said. The votes have held steady. It is clear that the votes are not here to pass a bill out of the Senate with the riders attached to it.
With Democrats showing no signs of backing down, Republicans are left in a quandary.
Time is running out for DHS funding bill
Some Senate Republicans are insisting that the $39.7 billion DHS funding bill packed with immigration riders stands no chance of clearing a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. And with DHS set to run out of money at the end of February, they are calling for a new strategy. But House Republicans are not budging and are pressing the Senate to get the job done.
The House did its work. We won this fight, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Thursday. Now its time for Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats to come together and hold the president accountable.
All eyes are now on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who on Thursday left the possibility open for a fourth vote on the DHS funding bill. He also took to the Senate floor to go after Senate Democrats for blocking debate on the bill.
I dont understand why they want to block the Senate from even debating a bill to fund Homeland Security, McConnell said. It really just doesnt make sense. Youd think our Democratic friends would at least want to give the Senate an opportunity to make improvements to the bill if they want to make such improvements.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shifted the blame on Republicans. He said Americans want Congress to defend the homeland against threats from ISIL and other terrorist groups. But instead of heeding to those calls, Reid said, Republicans appear to be more concerned about passing a DHS spending bill that would end a deferred action program that protects undocumented youth from deportation.
It appears the Republican Senate is more afraid of dreamers than they are of ISIL, Reid said.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) echoed that message, saying: If ISIS is resolute in their barbarity, we need to be resolute in protecting our country. And to think that we are caught up in this political debate over immigration and the presidents actions and not funding the Department of Homeland Security is disgraceful.