Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) while flanked by members of his leadership team on Feb. 3 on Capitol Hill. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate once again failed to advance a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday, as Democrats blocked the legislation that would repeal steps taken by President Obama to change the nation's immigration policy.

Funding for the sprawling department expires on Feb. 27 and lawmakers so far haven't reached a deal to keep the department open, with Republicans looking to use a new spending bill to punish the president for taking executive action last fall to revamp immigration rules, while Democrats stand firmly against the GOP move.

On Thursday, for the third consecutive day, the Senate failed to earn the 60 votes needed to advance to final passage. Just 52 senators voted yes and 47 senators -- all members of the Democratic caucus, along with Republican Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.) -- voted no. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also voted "no," preserving his right as Senate leader to bring up the legislation again under the chamber's rules.

How exactly Republicans plan to proceed remains unclear. The impasse has once again exposed deep differences between hard-line conservatives strongly opposed to Obama's immigration actions and more moderate Republicans who disagree with what the president did, but realize that they can do very little to reverse the president's moves without super-majorities in the House and Senate.

Asked by reporters on Thursday if he knows how McConnell plans to proceed after three days of failing to advance the bill, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) shrugged his shoulders and said: "No."

"He's got a tough job over there. I've got a tough job over here," he said. God bless him, and good luck. What else can you say?"

Earlier in his weekly news conference, Boehner took a stronger line.

"Republicans are standing with the people while Democrats are protecting the president," he said. "I don't think the American people are going to forget these votes."

"The House did its work. We won this fight. Now it's time for Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats to come together and to hold the president accountable," he added later.