Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a plan on Tuesday that would allow a vote on a "clean" DHS funding bill that would fully fund Pres. Obama's unconstitutional amnesties. The plan hinges on a possible deal with Senate Democrats that would require them to allow debate on a separate measure that would defund the president's 2014 executive amnesties. The move came a day after Senate Democrats, along with Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), blocked debate for the fourth time on the House-passed DHS funding bill, H.R.240.
Sen. McConnell said he would "be happy" to pass a "clean" DHS funding bill before the Senate considers legislation dealing with the president's amnesties. The plan, however, would only ask Senate Democrats to debate the separate defund legislation, not help pass it.
"I put on the calendar last night what we call the 'Collins bill', which would, if enacted, prevent the president's executive actions from last November from going into effect," Sen. McConnell said during a Tuesday press conference. "Procedurally, a vote on that will occur on Friday. It would be cloture on the motion to proceed to that bill. In the meantime, I've indicated to the Democratic leader that I'd be happy to have his cooperation to advance the consideration of a clean DHS bill which would carry us through Sept. 30."
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, argued, because of last week's court ruling that issued a temporary injunction on Pres. Obama's executive amnesties, that Congress no longer needed to defund the president's actions. "With this federal injunction in place, any money that the United States Congress appropriates for the Department of Homeland Security will not go to fund the president's illegal action," Cornyn said."
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) immediately spoke out against McConnell's plan and rejected Cornyn's notion that a "clean" DHS funding bill would not fund Obama's amnesties. "There is a reasonable chance that some court will lift the stay and allow the president to begin implementing the amnesty pending a final ruling on the merits of the case. But Congress can stop it, has the duty to stop it in its appropriations bill," Sen. Sessions said. In point of fact DHS is continuing to plan for implementation despite the judge’s temporary injunction.
Sen. Sessions also stated that he stood behind the House-passed bill and the Senate should do the same.
"The House of Representatives acted wisely, properly, funding Homeland Security and not allowing activities to be carried out that are unlawful and that Congress has rejected," he said. "Now, there are some even on the Republican side that say, 'Oh, gosh, you know the president will blame us even if it’s not our fault and we might as well cave in and give him what he wants.'"
Although McConnell's plan gave Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the vote on the clean DHS spending bill he requested, he vowed to continue to block passage until Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, convinced House Republicans to go along with the two-bill plan.
McConnell’s plan, and Reid’s demands, put pressure Speaker Boehner, who’s caucus still wants Congress to prohibit Obama’s unilateral actions. A group of House Republicans lead by Rep. Jeff Duncan (S.C.) are gathering signatures on a letter urging Boehner to hold firm.
Today in a private meeting with his caucus Speaker Boehner again said it’s up to the Senate to figure out how to keep DHS funded. He said his staff have been in contact with Sen. McConnell’s staff but he has not personally spoken to the Senate leader.
For more on this story, read The Hill
Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 3:30pm EDT