Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) reversed his support on Wednesday for a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that would also defund President Barack Obama’s November immigration order to shield five million illegal immigrants from deportation.
“I generally agree with the Democratic position here,” Kirk told Rollcall. “I think we should have never fought this battle on DHS funding.”
Kirk is the second Senate Republican to come out against the plan to use DHS funding as leverage to put the brakes on the president’s immigration policies. Last week, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) voted with Democrats to prevent the DHS bill from being debated in the Senate.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has offered Democrats the chance to add amendments to the bill, but the bill has been repeatedly filibustered.
“We have a new Senate where amendments are finally allowed on the floor,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas.) on Thursday. “If they don’t like provisions in the House bill, introduce an amendment, and let’s vote on the amendment.”
Funding for the DHS runs out on Feb. 27, although most essential personnel would continue to work during a temporary shutdown of the department, as they did in 2013.
House Democrats introduced a “clean” version of the DHS bill without the clauses on immigration on Wednesday and was predictably voted down in the House.
“Republicans’ radical immigrant riders are dead in the Senate,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “Yet today, House Republicans unanimously voted to block consideration of a clean DHS funding bill to avert this manufactured crisis and restore certainty to the security of American families.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) firmly ruled out the possibility of a clean version of the bill on Wednesday and Thursday, saying that the House had “done its job.”
Even if the DHS bill passes the Senate, President Obama has previously promised to veto a bill that interferes with his executive action on immigration.