House Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday that he is prepared to let the Department of Homeland Security shut down in less than two weeks and that Democrats would be to blame.
“The House has acted. We’ve done our job. Senate Democrats are the ones putting us in this precarious position,” Mr. Boehner said on Fox News Sunday.
The House passed a bill that would keep the Homeland Security Department running, but defunds the president’s executive amnesty that many Republicans said was an unconstitutional executive overreach. The Senate, however, has failed to overcome multiple Democrat-led filibusters and doesn’t look able to pass the House bill.
With the clock ticking on funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which will expire Feb. 27 at midnight, the House and Senate left Washington for a weeklong break for President’s Day.
Mr. Boehner said Democrats aren’t even willing to vote to begin debate on the bill — an oft-heard criticism from Democrats when they were in the Senate majority trying to overcome Republican-led stalemates last year.
Democrats rejected Mr. Boehner’s finger of blame and said Americans will realize it is Republicans who are refusing to budge and placing the country’s national security at risk.
“When Speaker Boehner tied immigration to DHS funding, he knew exactly what he was doing; saying unless I get my way, I’m going to shut down a large part of the government,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said in a statement. “To now blame Democrats when members of his own party, conservative leaders and others have all asked him to back off this game of chicken is disingenuous at best.”
Senate Republicans said that shutting down the Department of Homeland Security — especially at a time when radical Islamic terrorist threats are growing — is not the answer to the president’s actions.
“We do not need to leave our nation in a situation with the types of threats we have with an agency that is not working at full steam,” Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, said Americans elected a GOP majority to both chambers of Congress to get things done, not to have infighting between House and Senate Republicans.
“We cannot cut funding from the Department of Homeland Security. We need to sit down and work this thing out,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “There’s ways we can address what the president did was unconstitutional, but it’s not through shutting down the Department of Homeland Security; it’s too serious.”
Mr. Boehner said the House will not vote on another bill that is able to pass the Senate and that the responsibility is on senators to come up with a plan if they are unable to move the House-passed bill.
“If the Senate doesn’t like it, they’ll have to produce something that fits their institution,” he said.
The speaker said it’s imperative to rein in what many Republicans believe was an executive overreach when Mr. Obama issued an immigration executive order last year.
“The Congress just can’t sit by and watch the president defy the Constitution,” he said. “So the House acted. Now it’s time for the Senate to act.”