By Rebecca Shabad
February 11, 2015
A House GOP lawmaker said Wednesday that a “clean” bill funding the Department of Homeland Security would be better politically than passing a short-term continuing resolution (CR) funding the agency.
“From a political perspective, in my view, you’re better off passing a clean Homeland Security appropriations bill because it makes a lot of important changes many of us on the Republican side wanted — more detention beds and all sorts of improvements to border control,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told reporters.
“I think it’s better politically to vote for a clean appropriations bill,” he added. “That’s better on a policy basis as well as on a political basis. I’m going to urge that we do the DHS bill and not a CR, but a CR is better than a shutdown.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson explained Tuesday that it would be tough for his department to continue operating on a CR based on 2014 funding levels because it would prevent the agency from launching any new initatives.
Dent, a centrist and someone close to GOP leadership, said he argued in December against separating Homeland Security funding from the massive spending package passed funding the rest of the government through September.
“We all know how this is going to end: it’s going to end in a CR or a clean or cleaner DHS appropriations bill,” he said.
Dent said he hopes Congress doesn’t allow DHS to shut down at the end of February.
“I’ve talked to a lot of members who feel as I do,” he said. “We need to pass the bill…pull the bandage off the scab and get it done.
"I've been in this position before," he added. "We're going to pass a bill at some point that funds this and some of us are going to be accused of being capitulators, surrenderers, squishes. Ya know, welcome to my world. That's what I'm just going to deal with."
Both chambers are slated to leave Washington on Friday for a five-day recess next week. When they return the following week, they’ll only have five days to resolve the issue before the Feb. 27 deadline.
Dent’s comments come as GOP leaders in both the House and Senate struggle to figure out their plan B. The House-passed bill includes riders that would reverse President Obama’s immigration orders from 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Senate Democrats repeatedly blocked the bill in the upper chamber last week and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that it’s “obviously” up to the House to send a different bill back to the Senate because he can't secure the 60 votes needed to advance the current bill.
On Wednesday morning, however, House GOP leaders were still sticking to the original strategy. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Senate Democrats need to “get off their ass” and pass a bill.
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