WASHINGTON -- With a bipartisan majority, the U.S. Senate voted Friday to pass a long-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security and avert a shutdown that is only hours away. But the House of Representatives is expected to ignore the bipartisan vote and instead pass a three-week stopgap measure to keep the DHS budget fight dragging on.
The House and Senate -- both controlled by Republicans -- were consulting different playbooks Friday morning. The division between leaders and conservatives were growing starker, as both chambers worked to pass different funding bills. In the Senate, conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah tried, unsuccessfully, to derail his own majority leader’s amendment.
The Senate passed its Homeland Security funding bill, which would be effective until September, by a 68-31 vote, with only Republicans opposing the measure. That bill will land with a thud in the House. Meanwhile, in that chamber, Republicans managed to clear an important procedural hurdle to fund the department for three weeks.
House Republicans hope that by extending the deadline three weeks they will be in a better position to blame Democrats for a possible shutdown. And that by using this leverage, they will be in a better bargaining position to force concessions on the immigration issue.
It’s a gamble for Republicans, who have shouldered much of the blame for a possible shutdown. They will have to convince the public that it is the Democrats -- in the minority in both chambers -- that they should blame for a potential shutdown.
As the Friday-night deadline grows closer, the division between Republicans grows starker. House Republicans are unhappy with Senate Republicans for backing away from fighting President Barack Obama’s immigration executive orders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to fund DHS without attempting to simultaneously reverse Obama’s orders. McConnell struck the deal with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to allow a funding bill to pass the Senate.
But House Republicans decided Thursday evening they won’t go along with McConnell’s deal. Instead, they will agree to fund the department for only three weeks. The House is scheduled to vote on the short-term funding legislation Friday afternoon, when Democrats and moderate Republicans are expected to oppose the legislation, creating a razor-thin margin for passage. The bill then must gain support in the Senate to avoid a shutdown.