WASHINGTON — Democrats bailed out House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) from a predicament on Friday by helping him pass a bill to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.
For one week.
The drama exploded when the House flamed out Friday afternoon by failing to pass a bill to fund DHS for a mere three weeks. The stunning failure of the GOP leadership’s bill created uncertainty over DHS funding, prompting President Barack Obama to convene a meeting with key officials to brace for a shutdown.
The Senate acted first to approve a one-week “continuing resolution” to keep DHS funds flowing at existing levels. The measure was passed by a voice vote, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) subsequently adjourned the chamber until Monday afternoon.
The House went next, approving the one-week bill by an overwhelming 357-60 margin just two hours before the deadline, and sending the bill to Obama for his signature.
Before the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote a letter to Democrats urging them to support the legislation.
“Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week,” she wrote.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told reporters that the Speaker hadn’t committed to bringing up a full DHS funding bill next week. In response a Democratic congressional aide disputed that characterization, saying Boehner had “100 percent, absolutely” committed to bring up a “clean” DHS bill through September next week.
The underlying battle that has thrown DHS funding in disarray is over President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Conservatives in Congress have demanded that DHS funding be withheld until Obama agrees to reverse his policies to grant temporary reprieves to more than 4 million undocumented immigrants.
“This is actually a little bit of a side show. I think the decisive arena is actually the courts,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a Boehner ally, told reporters. “We can’t achieve a complete victory in Congress. We don’t have the Senate. The President does have a veto.”
The legislation means Congress has an extra week to keep DHS properly functioning.