Agreeing on little else, Democrats and Republicans managed to come together late Friday to pass a short-term bill to keep the Homeland Security Department running one more week — though they made little headway on solving the underlying fight over President Obama’s deportation amnesty.
The funding bill will keep agents on the border, screeners at airports and grants flowing to states through March 19, averting a partial shutdown that would have struck at midnight. Mr. Obama signaled he would sign the bill, but it was unclear whether the extra week would do anything to break the impasse, which has now raged for three months.
The House cleared the one-week extension on a 357-60 vote about 10 p.m., after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who’d led her troops to block a three-week extension earlier in the day, urged an about-face and told them to vote for the shorter bill.
“Our unity was a strong statement that the Department of Homeland Security must be fully funded,” the Californian said in a letter to fellow Democrats telling them that by switching, they could help preserve the chance for them to win next week.
The Senate cleared the one-week bill with far less drama, voting by voice to accept the measure even before the House sent it over.
Fifty five conservatives voted against the one-week bill, along with five Democrats. The conservatives argued that even a short-term bill would allow funding to flow to Mr. Obama’s deportation amnesty — the move that has prompted the entire funding dust-up.
House Republicans last month passed a bill to fund the Homeland Security Department for the rest of the fiscal year, but included language that blocks Mr. Obama’s November announcement of a program to grant legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to as many as 4 million illegal immigrants.
Democrats argue Mr. Obama acted within his powers, and have generally defended him. They also said that fight should be separated from the homeland security spending fight.
Earlier Friday, Senate Republicans retreated from their stance and agreed with Democrats to separate the two fights, clearing a “clean” full-year homeland security funding bill without the deportation provisions.
But House Republicans rejected that bill, and demanded a conference to work out the disagreement.
Democrats have rejected the idea of a conference, leaving the path forward next week murky.