House Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday that if Congress is unable to reach a compromise to continue funding for the Department of Homeland Security, it is the Senate Democratic minority that deserves the blame.
The House has passed legislation that would extend funding for DHS – whose current funding is set to run out on Feb. 27 – but has tied that bill to provisions that would block President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Senate Democrats have insisted on a “clean” bill, and Obama has threatened to veto the current House-passed legislation – prompting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to declare his chamber “stuck” and request the House to pass a different piece of legislation.
But, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Boehner (R-Ohio) said that his chamber has done its job and that he is “certainly” prepared to allow the funding to expire if the Senate is unwilling to act on the House-passed bill.
“If the Senate doesn’t like it, they’ll have to produce something that fits their institution. . . . The House has acted. We’ve done our job,” Boehner said. “Senate Democrats are the ones putting us in this precarious position. And it’s up to Senate Democrats to get their act together.”
While Republicans now hold majorities in the House and the Senate, they lack the 60 votes needed to clear procedural hurdles to legislation in the Senate.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) quickly responded to Boehner through a spokesman.
“With only four legislative days left until the Republican Homeland Security Shutdown, Speaker Boehner made it clear that he has no plan to avoid a government shutdown that would threaten the safety of the American people,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “With every House Democrat now cosponsoring clean legislation to fund DHS, it is clear that the votes are present to pass a bill now if only Speaker Boehner would get out of the way.”
During the appearance, Fox host Chris Wallace repeatedly asked Boehner whether he is prepared to let the funding expire. And the speaker stood firm, insisting that it is up to Senate Democrats to allow a vote on the current bill or a Senate version.
"One more time: The House has done its job under the Constitution," Boehner said. "It's time for the Senate to do their job."
Appearing on CBS’s "Face the Nation," White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said it is vital that Congress act to extend DHS funding.
“It’s very important that we not, however, take the path that they’re suggesting we do take,” McDonough said, “which is Congress continues to get paid but law enforcement officials associated with defending our borders, protecting us against cyberattacks, defending our airports and making sure that airlines and aviation security is upheld are forced to work without pay.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Face the Nation" that he remains confident that Congress will find a compromise to extend DHS funding.
“When we have a department whose mission is to protect the homeland, especially in these times, we need to find a way to fund it,” Corker said. “It needs to be resolved, and I think it will be.”