Democrats urge Republicans to pass ‘clean’ DHS bill as time runs out

As the deadline quickly approaches to fund the Department of Homeland Security, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) on Friday joined her Democratic colleagues in calling on Republicans to…

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif) wants Republicans to support a clean DHS funding bill she helped introduce. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the deadline quickly approaches to fund the Department of Homeland Security, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) on Friday joined her Democratic colleagues in calling on Republicans to drop their “poison pill” amendments and support a “clean” appropriations bill that she helped introduce.

Her bill, HR 861, excludes the amendments attached to the House-approved DHS funding bill that would reverse President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

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Standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Roybal-Allard warned that the Feb. 27 deadline to fund DHS is quickly approaching. She also blasted Republicans for using the DHS funding bill to try to block Obama’s immigration policies.

“There are only 15 days left before the expiration of temporary funding for the department and only four days in which we hope the Republicans take advantage of this opportunity to correct their dangerous strategy and stop threatening our national security,” Roybal-Allard said.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) joined Roybal-Allard in introducing the clean homeland security appropriations bill on Wednesday. She noted on Friday that all 188 voting House Democrats support the bill and that only 30 votes from Republicans are needed to pass it.

“We can and must pass this bill now,” Lowey said.

Obama’s immigration executive actions that Republicans want to block include a new program dubbed Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. It offers temporary deportation reprieve and work permits to parents of U.S. citizen children and lawful permanent residents. The president’s actions also include the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was first implemented in 2012.

SEE ALSO: Immigrants, advocacy groups prepare for Obama’s immigration programs

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Friday spoke in support of Obama's execute actions on immigration (Twitter/@RepBecerra)

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Friday spoke in support of Obama’s execute actions on immigration (Twitter/@RepBecerra)

At another press conference hosted Friday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they stand united with Obama in the implementation of his executive actions. They also noted enrollment for the expanded DACA program will begin on Feb. 18, while enrollment for the new DAPA program will begin on May 20.

“The Hispanic Caucus encourages eligible individuals to take advantage of the DACA expansion program and the DAPA program in May,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), who’s the CHC chairwoman.

Meanwhile, Republicans seem poised to continue their efforts to try to pass the House-approved DHS funding bill in the Senate. Democratic senators have already blocked the bill three times, causing some Republicans to say the House bill won’t pass as long as it includes amendments to rollback Obama’s immigration policies.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.), who sits on the House appropriations subcommittee that drafted the DHS funding bill, said in a televised interview with CNN on Friday that passing a “clean or cleaner” bill to fund DHS is inevitable.

“It’s just a matter of when,” he said. “I would prefer we do it before Feb. 27 rather than after.”

When asked who would be blamed if Congress doesn’t pass a bill, Dent said he suspects Republicans “will probably take a greater hit on this than the Democrats.” However, he also criticized Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for preventing the Senate from voting on the House-approved DHS funding bill.

SEE ALSO: Pope Francis will likely discuss immigration in address to Congress

At the end of the interview, Dent urged his Republican colleagues to “pull the bandage off the scab” and pass a clean bill so that Congress can move on to other issues.

“We need to stop setting up these artificial cliffs because once we do that, it sucks all the oxygen out of the Capitol and it prevents us from dealing with issues like tax reform, trade, transportation, cyber security—all the things that the American people expect us to work on,” he said.

But not all Republicans agree with Dent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is one of them. He said in a press conference on Thursday that Senate Democrats, rather than Republicans, would be blamed if Congress fails to pass a bill to fund DHS.

“The House of Representatives have done its job. It has voted on funding for DHS,” Cruz said. “And Senate Democrats are playing partisan politics with our national security by preventing the Senate from even taking up that funding bill.”

Members of Congress will leave for a five-day recess next week. When they return, they’ll only have four days to pass a funding bill that would keep DHS running.