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GOP struggles for way out as Homeland shutdown looms

Published:Wednesday | February 25, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson speaks with Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee Vice-Chair Terry McAuliffe, during the committee’s session on cybersecurity on the weekend in Washington.


Divided Republicans are searching for a way out of an impasse over immigration that is threatening to shut down the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 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 remove 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 immigration to register their opposition with a stand-alone vote on a separate measure.


'It's a disgrace'


But McConnell left unclear how he would get the department's funding bill passed ahead of Friday's midnight deadline to fund the department or see it shut down.

"This proposal doesn't bring us any closer to actually funding DHS, and Republicans still have no real plan to achieve that goal," said Senator Chuck Schumer. "It's a disgrace that ISIS and al-Shabab are fully funded, but thanks to Republican gameplaying, the Department of Homeland Security might not be."

ISIS is 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 Western countries.

After last week's federal court ruling putting Obama's immigration programmes 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.