As expected, McConnell caves on DHS funding bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given the Democrats everything they want in the DHS funding bill; an up or down vote on the measure stripped of the defunding amendments to the president's executive orders on immigration. A separate vote would be held on the immigration riders on Friday.
Simply amazing and entirely predictable. When the Republicans filibustered the budget in 2013, they were blamed for shutting down the government. The Democrats have filibustered the DHS funding bill and guess who's going to get blamed if the department is forced to shut down? Incredible.
Democrats are cool to the idea - even though it's exactly what they want. Now they want to humiliate both McConnell and Speaker of the House John Boehner by forcing the speaker to guarantee the stripped down DHS funding bill will pass the House.
Good luck with that.
McConnell told reporters Tuesday, "I do not know what the House will do."
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart would not say whether McConnell had told Boehner about his new strategy before making the announcement Monday night, although he acknowledged that the two leaders speak often.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said McConnell announced the decision at a conference luncheon Tuesday, but that the announcement had drawn ire from more-conservative members who believe McConnell was giving in to Democratic demands without holding the president accountable. Multiple Republicans in the meeting said there was still broad disagreement as to whether a caving to Democrats demands for a clean funding bill was the best course forward.
"Most of us feel like the courts gave us a major victory," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said outlining the rationale for McConnell to offer a clean DHS bill now after weeks of not backing down. "Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to bank victories and move ahead."
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who has been a major advocate of tying DHS funding to blocking Obama's actions, says he thinks leadership should stick with the original plan.
"I think it is a big deal of huge, historic importance," Sessions says." I will be glad to consider what our leaders have talked about, but I remain firmly convinced that at this point Congress should put the heat where it belongs, and that is on the president."
Outside conservatives, who have been known to influence Boehner's ability to get his conference to "yes" have already said they are opposed to stand alone DHS funding bill. Senate Conservatives Fund tweeted Tuesday, "Senate GOP leaders surrender again … plan to fund Obama's amnesty for the rest of the fiscal year."
The influence, especially of a group such as Heritage Action for America, which announced it will key vote a "no" on a clean DHS funding vote, could still derail any DHS deal. "As the majority leader said last year, the power of the purse is the 'only tool' Congress has to rein in executive overreach," Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said in a statement.
"I think it is clear that the House has not agreed on a strategy yet," Flake told reporters.
You'd like to think that McConnell will call Harry Reid's bluff and hold a vote on the stripped down DHS bill anyway, forcing Democrats to either vote along with the GOP or filibuster a bill that they support. But that's not going to happen because McConnell needs Democratic support to pass the bill. There may be 7-9 conservatives in the Senate who won't go along with the plan, necessitating substantial Democratic support to pass the measure.
And it's not likely that Boehner can satisfy Reid when it comes to the stripped down bill passing the House. There's a revolt brewing in the lower chamber. House conservatives are sick of being taken for granted by the Senate and could very well block any attempt to pass the bill.
Boehner will be busy counting noses today, but it will take a few days to twist the arms necessary to get the bill passed - if he can do it at all. It seems likely that all this manuevering will lead to a shut down of the Department of Homeland Security at least for a few days.