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Funding Homeland Security: Where Do We Go From Here?

Speaker of the House John Boehner responds to reporters about the impasse over passing the Homeland Security budget on Friday.
J. Scott Applewhite
Speaker of the House John Boehner responds to reporters about the impasse over passing the Homeland Security budget on Friday.

As we reported late Friday, the House managed to approve a one-week extension of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which President Obama signed. The passage capped a day of scrambling that saw a longer three-week stopgap shot down in the House.

But the thorny issue that has weighed on a longer-term funding bill — an insistence by Republicans that it include a push-back on the president's executive action on immigration — is still in the air. And the clock is ticking on the fresh deadline to resolve the impasse.

NPR's Ailsa Chang, speaking on Weekend Edition Saturday, says: "[It] was very clear that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] and House Speaker John Boehner were not in sync on their strategies. Which created a lot of tension between the two chambers. Many House Republicans resented being pressured by the Senate to pass a long-term funding bill — so that's one reason they pushed back with a shorter-term bill."

Where might things go from here?

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"Republicans said they expected that next week the House would end up going along with the Senate's bill funding Homeland Security through September without immigration changes. 'I don't think there's any alternative,' said Rep. Charlie Dent (R., Pa.) 'When we're at the end of next week, what do we do?'

"An aide to House Speaker John Boehner(R., Ohio) said the Republican leader had made no commitment, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi(D., Calif.) said she expected the one-week measure would buy the time to pass a funding measure that would cover the remainder of the fiscal year."

Politico adds:

"Boehner's allies are concerned after Friday's setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility. ...

"Twenty-five Republicans voted against Boehner for speaker on the floor in early January, signaling his continued problems with his conservative hardliners. And Boehner's allies believe that the earlier DHS debacle on Friday, when 52 Republicans voted against the three-week plan, was in part aimed at toppling the speaker."

Ailsa says "Boehner has a vocal and determined contingent of conservatives in his caucus who aren't afraid to challenge him — that group is bigger now than before the election. More than 50 Republicans voted against Boehner's first plan [on Friday]."

The Hill notes:

"Pelosi ... didn't explain why she and the Democrats — who were adamantly opposed to a three-week extension — suddenly reversed course to accept the one-week deal just a few hours later.

"The Democratic leaders declined to comment on whether their agreement to the seven-day deal came with assurances that the House would vote on the Senate's 'clean' DHS bill providing funding through September."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.