WASHINGTON (AP) – Divided Republicans are searching for a way out of an impasse over immigration that is threatening to shut down the Homeland Security Department within days.
With the agency’s budget set to expire Friday at midnight without action by Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Monday he would separate language overturning President Barack Obama’s contested immigration measures from the department’s funding bill.
The move seemed aimed at pressuring Senate Democrats who have opposed the legislation because the immigration language is included. It also would allow Republicans who oppose Obama’s executive actions on deferring deportation for millions of immigrants living in the US illegally to register their opposition with a stand-alone vote. But Senate Democrats were quick to point out it left unanswered the question of how to fund the Homeland Security Department.
“This proposal doesn’t bring us any closer to actually funding DHS,” said Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. “It’s a disgrace that ISIS and al-Shabab are fully funded, but thanks to Republican game-playing, the Department of Homeland Security might not be.”
ISIS in one acronym for the Islamic State militant group that has taken over much of Iraq and Syria. Over the weekend, a video purported to be released by Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked rebel group al-Shabab urged Muslims to attack shopping malls in the US and other Western countries.
In the wake of a federal court’s ruling last week saying Obama overstepped his authority, and putting his immigration actions on hold, a growing number of Senate Republicans argued for letting the immigration fight play out in court, and passing a “clean” bill to fund Homeland Security, free of the language on immigration. The Obama administration on Monday asked US District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas to put his immigration ruling on hold and filed a notice of appeal of his ruling to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.