Sunday, 14 July 2024 18:49

McConnell offers separate bill to block Obama on immigration

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a new proposal Monday to block President Obama’s immigration orders, redirecting his party’s strategy in an attempt to avoid a funding lapse for the Department of Homeland Security.

The bill separates the immigration issue from funding for the agency after the Senate failed Monday for a fourth time to advance a House-passed bill that linked the two matters. Funding for the department is set to expire Friday.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he was offering the bill as “a way to get the Senate unstuck.”

Republicans have insisted on using the Homeland Security funding bill to reverse Obama’s decision in November to ease deportation for about 5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

McConnell didn’t outline a strategy for funding the agency, though the immigration vote would clear the way for a separate funding bill sought by Democrats. McConnell has said repeatedly that he wouldn’t let the agency’s funding expire.

The move also distinguishes McConnell’s leadership style from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has allowed the demands of tea party-aligned lawmakers to bring the government to the brink of a shutdown before reaching a compromise. A 16-day partial shutdown in October 2013 was triggered by a dispute over funding the Affordable Care Act.

Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said Monday that a separate vote on the November immigration orders “will highlight the irresponsible hypocrisy of any Senate Democrat who claims to oppose President Obama’s executive overreach on immigration, but refuses to vote to stop it.”

The new legislation will put pressure on Senate Democrats including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri who have been critical of Obama’s immigration orders.

Until now, the Democrats have said they oppose the Republican effort to block Obama’s immigration orders because it shouldn’t be tied to funding the Homeland Security department.

Obama told the nation’s governors Monday that a shutdown of the agency will affect the economy and the nation’s security.

“These are folks who, if they don’t have a paycheck, are not going to be able to spend that money in your states,” Obama told members of the National Governors Association at the White House. “It will have a direct impact on your economy, and it will have a direct impact on America’s national security, because their hard work helps to keep us safe.”

 Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said a shutdown would require 75 percent to 80 percent of his employees, including Border Patrol agents and members of the Coast Guard, to work without pay. The department would have to furlough 30,000 employees, including much of the headquarters staff.

“Every day I press the staff at my headquarters to stay one step ahead of groups like ISIL and threats to our aviation security,” Johnson said in a news conference Monday, referring to the terror group Islamic State. “If we shut down, that staff is cut back to a skeleton.”

While Republican leaders are trying to pin the blame on Democrats, some Republicans warn that their party will shoulder the responsibility for any disruptions.

“For God’s sakes, don’t shut down the premier homeland security defense line called the Department of Homeland Security,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Monday on the “Fox & Friends” program. “If we do, as Republicans, we’ll get blamed.”

A new CNN/ORC poll showed that 53 percent of Americans would blame Republicans in Congress for a shutdown, while 30 percent would blame Obama. A majority said a shutdown, even for only a few days, would be a crisis or a major problem.

Boomerang News

Google+ Google+