McConnell Announces Plan to Separate DHS Funding From Immigration Fight

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Monday a plan to break the gridlock in the Senate over President Obama’s executive order on immigration and funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

If Senate Democrats continue to block DHS funding, because it’s tied to a measure defunding Obama’s executive order granting work permits to illegal immigrants, McConnell said he’ll bring up a separate bill targeting the order specifically.

“As long as Democrats continue to prevent us from even [debating the DHS bill], the new bill I described offers another option we can turn to,” he said on the Senate floor. “It’s another way to get the Senate unstuck from a Democratic filibuster and move the debate forward.”

Democrats have voted five times to block the House-passed DHS bill from coming to the floor, and appear resolved to continue blocking it. They’re demanding a DHS bill that does not defund Obama’s order.

But House Republicans have made it clear they won’t pass that bill, and Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly said it’s entirely up to the Senate to sort it out.

DHS will partially shut down Feb. 27 — putting 30,000 employees on furlough and another 200,000 working without pay — if Congress does not figure out a way to fund it before then. Republicans could pass a short term continuing resolution, which would buy them more time to fight it out between themselves or figure out a way to swing Democrats.

McConnell’s bill separating DHS funding from the immigration fight would likely meet Republican opposition, especially in the House, where Republicans have said they won’t fund DHS unless they can block Obama’s order.