Mitch McConnell: Separate immigration fight from DHS funding bill

Monday evening Senate Democrats blocked legislation — for the fourth time — that would fund the Department of Homeland Security and reverse Obama’s executive orders on immigration. With barely four days remaining until a shutdown at DHS, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has suggested separating the GOP’s immigration fight from the DHS funding bill:

The move uncouples the GOP-backed provision curbing the president’s executive actions from a $40 billion Homeland Security spending bill that Democrats have been blocking because it includes the immigration language.

“The new bill I described offers another option we can turn to,” McConnell said Monday. “It’s another way to get the Senate unstuck from a Democrat filibuster and move the debate forward.”

The measure would not block the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The DACA program was implemented by Obama through executive action in 2012 and allows young people who arrived here illegally as children to obtain work permits and federal benefits.

“It isn’t tied to DHS’ funding,” McConnell said. “It removes their excuse. This is our colleagues’ chance to do exactly what they led their constituents to believe they’d do — defend the rule of law, without more excuses.”

It’s unclear whether Republicans will pass a short-term funding bill by the end of the week, but GOP leaders want to avoid government shutdowns at all costs. A shutdown a DHS would cause particular political damage given current public concern over international terrorism. Over the weekend, terror group Al-Shabaab threatened an attack on the Mall of America.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) has alternatively suggested a Homeland Security measure that strips out language ending DACA but keeps language curbing Obama’s executive action providing work permits and benefits to million of illegals. Some Senate Republicans believe leaving in DACA can win over enough Democrats to overcome another filibuster, but others aren’t so sure.

In the meantime, a continuing resolution might be the only option.