House votes for one-week extension of DHS funding

DHS fundingHouse votes for one-week extension of DHS funding
Published 2 March 2015

On Friday, just hours before the partial shut-down of DHS, the House Republican leadership, with the help of Democratic lawmakers, managed to secure a majority for a one-week extension of the funding for the department. The vote for a one-week extension passed 357 to 60 — but not before a humiliating defeat for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and members of the GOP House leadership. The leadership was convinced it had the votes for a three-week extension, but that proposal was defeated when more than fifty Republican lawmakers bolted and voted against the bill – and their leaders. Democrats lawmakers then came to the help of the speaker, voting for the one-week extension on what they regard as a tacit understanding that toward the end of this week the House will vote on a “clean” extension of the DHS budget to the end of the fiscal year.

On Friday, just hours before the partial shut-down of DHS, the House Republican leadership, with the help of Democratic lawmakers, managed to secure a majority for a one-week extension of the funding for the department. The vote for a one-week extension passed 357 to 60 — but not before a humiliating defeat for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and members of the GOP House leadership.
The leadership was convinced it had the votes for a three-week extension, but that proposal was defeated when more than fifty Republican lawmakers bolted and voted against the bill – and their leaders.
Democrats lawmakers then came to the help of the speaker, voting for the one-week extension on what they regard as a tacit understanding that toward the end of this week the House will vote on a “clean” extension – that is, without a reference to President Barack Obama’s immigration executive order — of the DHS budget to the end of the fiscal year.
The New York Times reports a spokesman for Speaker Boehner was quick to note, however, that the speaker had made no commitment to House Democrats to bring a clean DHS funding to a vote.
“Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week,” Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-California), the Democratic leader, wrote in a note to members of the Democratic caucus on Friday evening, imploring them to support Boehner’s seven-day fallback funding proposal after his three-week funding measure went down to defeat.
The Senate had already voted to extend DHS funding by seven days.
The White House announced that the president signed the seven-day extension ten minutes before the departmental funding expired.
The Senate Republican leadership said it was planning to begin negotiations today (Monday) with the House over the president’s immigration executive order, but Democrats said they would block any such negotiations, especially if the Senate Republican leadership would tie such negotiations to the DHS funding issue.
The Times notes that the House fractious battle over the DHS budget stands in contrast not only to the Senate 68 to 31 vote for a clean extension of DHS funding to the end of the fiscal year – but is especially remarkable when considering the strong Republican vote in the Senate for the Senate bill.
“We should have never fought this battle,” said Senator Mark S. Kirk (R-Illinois). “In my view, in the long run, if you are blessed with the majority, you are blessed with the power to govern. If you’re going to govern, you have to act responsibly.”
This sentiment was echoed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). “2015 is about us,” he said. “There’s nobody to blame but us now when it comes to the appropriations process. If we can run the place more traditional, like a business, so to speak, I think we flourish. If we self-inflict on the budget, and the appropriations process, and we can’t get the government managed well, then I think we’re in trouble.”
Boehner argued with members of his caucus that Republicans would blamed for DHS shutdown, but the more conservative lawmakers were adamant in their refusal to vote for any funding of DHS which did not explicitly defund the implementation of Obama’s executive order.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters early Friday that the president would sign a short-term bill, if needed. “If the president is faced with a choice of having the Department of Homeland Security shut down or fund that department for a short term, the president is not going to allow the agency to shut down,” he said.
Observers noted that although the GOP now controls both the House (with an increased majority) and the Senate, the political dynamics exposed by the wrangling over the DHS budget makes it unlikely that Congress would move away from a pattern which saw it, over the past two years, lurch from crisis to crisis and right-at-the-deadline votes.
The Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and Speaker Boehner appear to be working from different scripts, and Boehner and the more conservative segment of his caucus have their own deep differences.
If an agreement on a routine matter such as departmental funding has proven elusive, these observers note, this does not bode well for reaching an agreement over more intricate issues, such as raising the debt ceiling, which will come up in late summer.

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