WASHINGTON (AP) – Anxious to escape a trap of their own making, Republicans proposed on Tuesday that the Senate vote on a Department of Homeland Security funding bill stripped of immigration provisions strenuously opposed by President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats.
“We could have that vote very quickly,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, just days before a threatened partial shutdown at DHS, which has major responsibility for thwarting terrorist attacks.
McConnell said he did not know how the Republican-controlled House would respond if a stand-alone spending bill passed.
The leader of Senate Democrats, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, said he wouldn’t agree to a deal unless it had the backing of House Speaker John Boehner.
Boehner’s office issued a statement that avoided accepting or rejecting the proposal.
“The speaker has been clear: The House has acted, and now Senate Democrats need to stop hiding. Will they continue to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security or not?” said a spokesman, Michael Steel.
Senate Republican officials said McConnell’s offer of a vote on a stand-alone funding bill also envisions a vote on a separate measure to repeal a directive issued by Obama last fall that shields about 4 million immigrants from deportation even though they live in the United States illegally.
At the same time, the proposal would eliminate attempts to repeal an earlier presidential order that allows tens of thousands of immigrants to remain in the country if they were brought here illegally as youngsters by their parents.