Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says Democrats are willing to debate immigration only after Department of Homeland Security is fully funded. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says his party is willing to debate immigration, but only after the Department of Homeland Security is fully funded. Speaking to reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, Reid said, "We're happy to debate immigration... but we're not going to do that until the Department of Homeland Security is funded. The Republicans shutdown the government and it appears they're willing to shut it down again, which is too bad." Reid, who suffered an eye injury while exercising at home earlier this year, wore sunglasses as he spoke. "ISIS is funded, we see that everyday on TV. The American people care about a lot of things but at the top of their list they know their homeland needs to be secure." The Senate failed for a fourth time on Monday to advance a $39.7 billion bill to fund DHS that includes Republican-authored provisions to block President Barack Obama's recent immigration orders that lift the threat of deportation from millions of undocumented immigrants. Senate Democrats blocked the measure and repeated their call for a "clean" bill free of immigration restrictions. Funding for the department, which spearheads domestic counter-terrorism efforts and secures U.S. borders, will be cut off at midnight on Friday (February 27) unless Congress renews it. If Homeland Security spending is cut off, the department's essential protective staff would stay on the job, but there would be no money to pay them until new funding is approved. After the failed vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a stand-alone bill to block the president's November 2014 order lifting the threat of deportation against millions of undocumented immigrants. While the path forward for Homeland Security remains unclear, several Republican senators said a stop-gap funding extension of one or two months, called a continuing resolution (CR), was under discussion and they would likely support it. That would allow the department to continue full operations and pay its 230,000 employees while a federal court challenge to Obama's immigration actions plays out. The path forward for the stalled funding bill may ultimately rest with House Speaker John Boehner, who is scheduled to meet with fellow House of Representatives Republicans on Wednesday (February 25).