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Senate DHS funding bill stuck sent back to House over immigration roadblock

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to send back the DHS funding bill to the House after it failed to advance after three cloture votes, Feb. 10, 2015
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to send back the DHS funding bill to the House after it failed to advance after three cloture votes, Feb. 10, 2015
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Three strikes you are out is the philosophy the Republican Senate leadership is taking after the bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security failed to advance after three votes, because of the immigration related amendments attached to the bill. On Tuesday, February 10, 2015, the Senate decided to send back the DHS funding bill to the House of Representatives in order that they amend it and make it passable for Senate Democrats, who are fiercely objecting the bill. Senate Democrats oppose the added amendments aimed at striping funding and repealing President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration, which is sparing over 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY speaking to the press said, he and the Republicans cannot to do anymore to advance the bill. McConnell laid out his problem and his plan; "I think it's clear we can't go forward in the Senate. So the next move, obviously, is up to the House. We've had a week on it. We've had three cloture votes, all of which have not succeeded. It's clear we can't get on the bill. We can't offer amendments to the bill and I think it'd be pretty safe to say we're stuck because of Democratic obstruction on the Senate side."

The Senate had three cloture votes and the Democrats would not budge, blocking the bill from advancing. First Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2015 the Republicans were unable to move their bill forward past the filibuster stage, and the bill failed in a procedural vote 51 to 48. Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 4, the Republicans tried again to advance the bill with no avail, failing again with a vote 53 to 47 to push the bill past the filibuster stage. The next day on Thursday, Feb 5, McConnell tried a third time to advance the bill, and it failed to move forward with a vote of 52 to 47.

Congressional Republicans have a problem both with President Obama overreaching his authority with his executive amnesty for illegal immigrants and the legal status the orders provide. The added amendments to the bill aimed at cutting DHS funding specifically for the executive actions. Congressional Republicans ferociously oppose the Constitutional liberties President Obama took in November 2014 preventing the deportations of over 4 million illegal immigrants in the country and giving them legal status, with the ability to work and pay taxes.

Speaker of House John Boehner's (R-OH) spokesman Michael Steel issued a statement that that the Speaker does not think there is anything that can be done in the House since the problem is the Senate Democrats' objections. Steel explained, "The House has passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and block the President's unilateral executive action on immigration. Now, the pressure is on Senate Democrats who claim to oppose the President's action, but are filibustering a bill to stop it. Until there is some signal from those Senate Democrats what would break their filibuster, there's little point in additional House action." The House of Representatives passed their bill on Wednesday, Jan. 14 with a vote of 236 to 191.

McConnell would not say if he is open to a continuing resolution, as a short-term solution to keep funding the department past the Feb. 27 deadline. "I'm not going to speculate about how this DHS funding issue may end. I can just tell you I think it's clearly stuck in the Senate. We can't get on it. We can't offer amendments to it and the next step is obviously in the House."

Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.