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Senate Democrats on Monday blocked a measure that would have begun negotiations between both chambers of Congress over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security, kicking off another week of partisan battles that threaten to shut down the agency.
In a 47 to 43 vote, the Senate rejected House Republicans call to go to conference to reconcile a House-passed DHS funding bill that curtails President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, with the Senate-passed bill that strips those provisions out and simply funds the department through the end of September.
The measure needed 60 votes to pass.
“Senate Democrats will not support going to conference because it would be just totally counterproductive,” Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday. “House Republicans have no intention of using that conference to craft legislation or that will pass houses in Congress.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, said, "I think we're dumb as a rock to do what we're doing." Graham has said Republicans would get blamed if Homeland Security Department shuts down.
The vote was the first step in another week’s worth of fighting over the president’s executive actions aimed at providing legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants. The president’s orders, though, are currently on hold after a federal judge ruled in favor of 26 states that challenged the actions.
Late last Friday, Congress passed a one-week funding bill to avert a Homeland Security shut down, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Cali, encouraging Democrats to support it because she said it would assure that the House would get a vote on the Senate-passed bill sometime this week.
"Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week," she wrote.
The Senate also voted to send the ‘clean’ funding bill for Homeland Security back to the House, 58-31, a vote that saw bipartisan support, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn. That vote only needed a simple majority to pass.
-- NBC's Andrew Rafferty contributed to this report.