The House approved a nine-month funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday, breaking a lengthy stalemate over President Barack Obama’s immigration policies that exacerbated the rift between Speaker John Boehner and the conservative wing of his conference.
The measure passed 257-167, with 182 Democrats and 75 Republicans voting to beat a Friday midnight deadline for DHS funding to expire. Voting against the measure were 167 Republicans, many in protest to the lack of language to block Obama’s immigration policies.
The vote ends a three-month battle over Obama’s decision to use executive powers to shield nearly 5 million immigrants from deportation, a move that enraged congressional Republicans. Boehner was only able to avoid a government shutdown last Friday after backroom negotiations with House Democrats led to a vote on a “clean” funding bill this week.
“After bringing our Homeland Security to the brink of a shutdown, I’m glad Republicans have finally realized the futility in refusing to protect the American people,” Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), the vice chairman of the Democratic caucus. “Picking a fight with President Obama and jeopardizing the safety of American families was not only absurd, but it was downright dangerous.”
The Senate has already approved a bill to extend DHS funding through September, so the legislation now heads to Obama’s desk to be signed.
Boehner (R-Ohio) was forced to use an obscure procedural rule to reverse an earlier vote against a clean bill, after the House and Senate were unable to forge an agreement to enter conference negotiations before DHS funding expires. The vote allows the House to reverses its position of disagreeing with the Senate’s legislation.
When announcing his plan to Republicans Tuesday morning, Boehner told GOP House members his decision to allow a clean funding bill to come to the House floor was “the right one for this team, and the right one for this country.”
“I am as outraged and frustrated as you at the lawless and unconstitutional actions of this president,” Boehner said.
Boehner received a standing ovation, according to a source in the room.
The speaker’s decision to allow a vote showed he is refusing to continue to be hamstrung on the DHS issue by a pocket of conservatives. Indeed, he invited their wrath by working with Democrats to fund the anti-terrorism agency through the remainder of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.
The stalemate emerged out of Obama’s November unilateral action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The House tried to gut those provisions, but the Senate was not able to get a matching bill through the chamber. Congress last week passed legislation to fund DHS through Friday.
Boehner told the gathering of Republicans that another short-term bill would not pass the House and said that Senate Republicans “never found a way to win this fight.”
“The three-week CR we offered would have kept this fight going and allowed us to continue to put pressure on Senate Democrats to do the right thing,” Boehner said in the meeting. “Unfortunately, that plan was rejected.”
A DHS shutdown, Boehner said, would be dangerous to national security.
“With more active threats coming into the homeland, I don’t believe that’s an option,” he said. “Imagine if, God forbid, another terrorist attack hits the United States.”
The Senate Monday rejected the House’s offer to enter formal conference negotiations between its clean bill and the House’s legislation, which attempted to stop President Barack Obama’s changes to the enforcement of immigration laws.
House Republicans are now turning their attention to the courts to oppose Obama’s executive actions. A federal judge ruled last month that Obama did not have the authority to halt the deportations. The administration quickly appealed, but several conservatives said Tuesday they now see the courts as the most effective way to halt the immigration policies.
One thought on “John Boehner ends stalemate”
Sad that both parties play the game. There was never the risk of shutting down homeland security, for indeed 85% of the department is considered essential, therefore they would always be required to show up for work by Statute. This is the message that should have been sent. The second message should have been that the House will not fund any measure that exceeds the authority of the President and his role under the Constitution, even if it is a good idea. The third message should have been that the House stands for Equality under the Law…. and then let the chips fall. Indeed a sad day for America.