Homeland Security could shut down in five days

Washington lawmakers now only have five days to prevent a shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security:

Legislation funding the agency is at an impasse over provisions demanded by House Republicans that would overturn President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that shield millions from deportation.

Over the recess, both sides dug in, with many Republicans arguing that there is no reason for their party to bend now that a federal court has ruled in their favor by blocking Obama’s most recent actions.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday evening for the fourth time on a motion to open debate on the House-passed DHS funding bill.

The motion will certainly fail, leaving a decision on what comes next to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

McConnell has publicly said that the House-approved bill cannot be passed by the Senate, but Boehner has shown no interest in moving away from legislation reversing Obama’s executive actions.

“The House passed a bill weeks ago to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Now, Senate Democrats need to stop filibustering to block debate on that bill,” Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel told The Hill late last week.

In a last-ditch effort to make peace, Senate Republicans are considering separating the immigration riders from the DHS funding bill, but it’s unclear whether conservatives will back the strategy:

Republicans think they can win over Democratic votes if they seek to overturn only Obama’s 2014 executive action, which even some centrist Democrats have criticized.

Still, it remains unclear whether conservative Republicans would go along with splitting the immigration issue from homeland security funding.

“There’s another angle we’re going to try to approach on it,” said a Senate Republican aide. “The goal is to bring up the issue of executive amnesty and have a determination of just that issue.

“We would try to have a vote on just that issue,” the aide added. “Does it have to be addressed as part of DHS, or can it be addressed separately? If we can get to that issue and have a vote on that issue, then you come back to DHS appropriations.

“That’s the issue some of the Democrats have a problem with the administration as well as the Republicans. But when you throw in all the other issues, Dreamers and all the other things that came over from the House, you don’t have as much Democratic support,” the source said.

Another plan, first suggested by Sen. John McCain, would place the decision in the hands of the courts:

After last week’s court ruling, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) argued it could be best for the GOP to let the fight play out in the courts, where he said Republicans are winning.

“”We now have an exit sign,” he said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And that is the federal court decision saying that the president’s actions unilaterally are unconstitutional. And I think we’ve got a great argument to hand to the Supreme Court, where it will go.”

Other GOP senators, including Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), echoedMcCain’s comment on the Sunday morning political talk shows about courts handling the constitutionality of Obama’s actions.

“I hope Republicans will come together and back the court case, file a friend of the court brief with the court and fund DHS. I am willing and ready to pass a DHS funding bill and let this play out in court,” Graham said on ABC News’s “This Week.”

Republican Tom Ridge, who served as the first secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, said Sunday on CNN that the GOP should send Obama a clean spending bill. Instead, the judicial branch can handle immigration, and Republicans can send immigration reform bills to the White House, Ridge added.

McCain’s option may be the best. A recent poll found that a majority of Americans would blame the GOP for a shutdown at DHS, and if there’s anything the Republican Party should avoid it’s increasing public perception that they’re still the “party of no.”