WASHINGTON — House Republicans attempted last week to kick the issue of funding for the Department of Homeland Security over to the Senate. On Monday evening, Senate Democrats kicked it back, putting the heat on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to avert a DHS shutdown.
The Democrats blocked the Senate from going to conference to reconcile the differences between the House’s and the Senate’s DHS budget bills. The vote was 47 to 43, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move ahead.
The department’s funding had been extended for one week last Friday and will now expire at the end of this week. The short-term measure was a gambit to keep DHS open as the chambers clashed on a way forward.
Republicans have argued that any DHS shutdown would be the fault of Senate Democrats who blocked the previous House bill from moving forward. (That bill also received a veto threat from the White House.) The vote on Monday was further evidence that Senate Democrats are unwilling to work with Republicans even by going to conference on a bill, they said.
“Americans are learning that Democrats might even try and prevent the Senate and House of Representatives from reconciling their bills to get the Department funded,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor earlier Monday. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”