Bowing to opposition from the Democrats and simple political reality, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, declared on Tuesday that he would allow a vote to be taken on a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) devoid of the immigration clauses intended to block President Obama’s executive action. These clauses were added to the bill by Republicans in the House of Representatives.
McConnell’s decision could be the move that helps to avert a shutdown of the DHS, the funding for which expires at the end of this week. “With Democratic cooperation – on a position they have been advocating for the past two months – we could have that vote very quickly,” McConnell declared to reporters.
The Kentucky Republican would then promote a separate vote encouraging senators to reveal their position on the issue of Obama’s executive actions on US immigration. McConnell has extended the offer to Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, who says that if passage of the bill was assured by house speaker John Boehner then the Democrats would almost certainly be on board This puts the spotlight – and the pressure – firmly back on Boehner, whose spokesman is continuing to peddle the line that the DHS running out of funding would be the fault of Senate Democrats.
Despite the protestations, a bill devoid of the immigration attachments seems to be the only way for DHS funding to continue past Friday, with Senate Democrats voting against the existing bill four times already.