WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders will bring a stopgap funding bill to the floor Friday that would fund the Department of Homeland Security for three weeks, buying time for a possible resolution on controversial immigration provisions.
As GOP members left a closed-door caucus meeting early Friday evening, details emerged about Republican leaders' new plan — which they are moving out on even before the Senate votes on its own answer to a $39.7 billion House-passed measure that contains provisions targeting President Barack Obama's recent immigration action.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told reporters the lower chamber will vote Friday on a "clean three-week extension," meaning a stopgap funding measure lacking any immigration riders.
The idea is to give congressional leaders more time to figure out how to fund DHS for the remainder of the fiscal year while also assuaging Republican rank-and-file conservatives who want to legislatively attack Obama's decision to safeguard millions from deportation.
GOP leaders are partially hoping the court system issues a definitive ruling on the Obama immigration action, which is currently frozen due to a federal judge's ruling.
That's the outside game. The inside game in Washington would see the Senate pass its answer to the controversial House-passed measure, which will be a "clean" bill spanning the rest of the fiscal year.
While the agency was living off the stopgap-funding measure, the two chambers would then go to conference on their full-year bills to try and iron out the differences about the immigration provisions.
"They're going to send us back their opinion," Issa said. "They have our opinion.
"In regular order, Congress is supposed to reconcile these differences by conference," he said. "I think healthy public debate in a conference is good for America and good for the debate."
Several other GOP members confirmed the three-week CR and Friday vote as they left the meeting.
At stake for the defense sector is the ability to do business temporarily with DHS entities, including the Coast Guard, which spends billions annually on helicopters, ships and aircraft.
The House GOP's new plan signals even the caucus' most conservative members want to avoid a political black eye that would come if the agency responsible for safeguarding US soil runs out of money. So it appears any shutdown would be short.
Earlier Thursday, a senior House Republican aide told CongressWatch that House Appropriations Committee leaders are ready to craft a short-term Department of Homeland Security spending bill to avoid an agency shutdown.
The aide says the panel could quickly have a DHS continuing resolution (CR) ready if the chamber's GOP caucus wants to avoid a potentially politically damaging shutdown.
"We have received no instructions from leadership to write a CR," the aide said. "However, if one is necessary, we will be ready to turn one around quickly."
That measure was rejected several times by the Senate, in which Republicans control only 54 of the 60 votes needed to end debate on legislation.
The Senate could approve a "clean" DHS-funding bill as soon as Friday, putting the ball in the House leaders' court.