Senate Fails to Advance Homeland Security Funding Bill as Deadline Looms

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks during a signing ceremony for the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act on February 13, 2015 in the Rayburn Room of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. From left: Senator John Hoeven, R-ND, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty ImagesMANDEL NGAN / AFP - Getty Images

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The Senate failed to advance Republican-backed legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security for a fourth time on Monday, giving Congress just four days to act before the agency shuts down.

In a 47 to 46 vote, Democrats blocked GOP efforts to advance a bill that would defund President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration while ensuring Homeland Security remains paid for.

The measure needed 60 votes to advance.

Democrats are demanding legislation that does not include any language on immigration, an issue they contend is unrelated to funding Homeland Security.

“Why are we doing this? Is it to please the House Republicans who can’t agree on anything?” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the vote. “It’s important that we fully fund this agency and do it now.”

Following Monday's vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced legislation that would undo Obama's immigration actions without including DHS funding. He called it "a way to get the Senate unstuck."

But House Republicans have so far been unrelenting in seperating the two and contend that Democrats will be responsible if the department runs out of funding.

If Congress fails to act by midnight on Friday, 30,000 Homeland Security employees will be furloughed. About 200,000 employees will need to continue to work without pay until the funding dispute is resolved.

-- Andrew Rafferty

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