WASHINGTON—As Congress hurries to fund the Department of Homeland Security, the House Democratic Whip said on Monday the GOP majority is splintered, making the job in the week ahead a challenge.
A whip’s job is to know how members of Congress will vote; so you could say Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has an eye for these things.
Hoyer acknowledged House Speaker John Boehner is facing fissures in the Republican ranks.
“Boehner’s got a very difficult task,” Hoyer stated. “He’s got a deeply divided party.”
A stop-gap measure approved Friday night temporarily preserved Homeland Security funding, but only for a week. A vote on a long-term measure is expected by the end of this week.
“Another short-term [continuing resolution] … is an undermining of our national security,” Hoyer said.
Congress has until Friday to fund the agency, which has become mired in a debate about President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Hardline Republicans have been demanding a reversal of the president’s policies as a condition for funding DHS.
The Senate passed legislation last week that would extend DHS funding through the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
But GOP House leadership proposed its own three-week resolution later that day. The House vote failed 224 to 203, with more than 50 Republicans siding with the majority of Democrats.
The conservative defectors wanted immigration legislation tied to the bill, instead of the “clean” version proposed. Some Republicans argued the courts would take on the immigration battle, to no avail.
The House voted in favor of a one-week solution, 357 to 60, which will expire Friday.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sent a message to her party to rally votes for this one-week measure.
“Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week.”
But Boehner, during a Face the Nation interview Sunday, said the House will “follow regular order,” deflecting the notion he struck a deal with Pelosi.
The speaker expects a vote by the Senate on whether or not the two chambers will conference on the proposed long-term bill.
Likely to fail, this Senate vote may become irrelevant. A House procedure could allow for a member to motion for a vote on the clean Senate bill according to Roll Call. Essentially, the Democrats could force a vote on the long-term DHS funding measure and avoid an immigration amendment by arguing that a conference will not happen to deal with the issue in time.
Despite the internal opposition, prominent GOP House members are more frustrated with those who defected.
Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., who chairs the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, voiced his frustration on Twitter.
“I oppose what President did on immigration. But only people who are detached from reality would consider not funding DHS,” adding later, “I’ve had it with this self-righteous delusional wing of the party that leads us over the cliff.”