TIME Congress

Congress Scrambles As Time Runs Out on Homeland Security Funding

John Boehner Holds Weekly Press Briefing At Capitol
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Speaker of the House John Boehner holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 5, 2015 in Washington, DC.

At 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning, the Department of Homeland Security will begin sending 30,000 of its employees home on furlough while the other 200,000 work without pay until and unless Congress passes a bill.

Despite dwindling time, it’s unclear what the House GOP leadership will do once it receives the Senate bill, which could pass as soon as Thursday. When a reporter asked House Speaker John Boehner what would happen, he simply blew kisses to the crowd.

“We have two different institutions that don’t have the same body temperature every day and so we tend to try and work to narrow the differences,” he said of himself and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “But sometimes there are differences. The House by nature and by design is a hell of a lot more rambunctious place than the Senate. Much more.”

The prospect of a partial government shutdown is not all that surprising. This particular bomb has had a long fuse.

On Dec. 16, President Obama signed a bill that funded all aspects of government through September, except the agency tasked to carry out his most recent executive actions granting temporary work permits to up to five million immigrants who came to the country illegally. Homeland Security was funded through Feb. 27 to appease Republicans, who believed their new Senate majority would give them greater leverage to protest in 2015.

 

But the agreement gave House conservatives more time and the confidence to sway Boehner and his lieutenants to pass their dream bill in mid-January, which would strip funding for other executive actions, including one that would defund Obama’s more popular 2012 program granting deportation relief to hundreds of thousands of young adults who came to the country illegally as children.

It was clear at least a month ago that the House bill was unacceptable in the face of a Senate Democratic filibuster. But without any acceptable compromise, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced two days ago that he would capitulate to the Democrats’ position, allowing a vote on a so-called “clean” bill that doesn’t include any immigration riders. He also will allow a vote on a separate bill so Republicans and potentially even a few Democrats can protest the recent and “most egregious” example of “executive overreach.”

House conservatives, some of whom wanted McConnell to change the filibuster rules to push through their bill, are furious.

“Harry is over there dictating terms to the Senate still,” says South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who hates the idea of a short-term compromise that would punt the deadline an extra few months.

“How do I go home and tell people that elections have consequences and that all the work they did to help the Republicans take the Senate has paid off if all we end up with is a three-month clean [bill],” he says. “That’s the same outcome we would have had if Harry was in charge.”

Democratic leaders twisted the knife Thursday, noting that Republicans could let the courts take up their fight, now that a Texas federal judge has ordered Obama to halt his most recent executive actions. Boehner, who believes that Obama’s executive actions are “unconstitutional,” dismissed that idea Thursday, calling for the Senate to act on the bill the House passed six weeks ago. “I think there’s a role for Congress to play,” he added.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi shot back Thursday in a separate press conference that “the gamesmanship should end.”

“Shutting down the government is their motive,” she said of House Republicans. “The Texas case … gave them a face-saving way to just end this.”

“If they send over a bill with all the riders in it, they’ve shut down the government,” added Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. “We’re not going to play games.”

TIME Congress

Lawmakers Feel No Rush on War Powers Debate

Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Senator Bob Corker questions Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Feb. 24, 2015

After over six months and over 2,300 airstrikes against Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq, Congress doesn’t feel that much pressure to authorize the President to do what he already is doing.

Though lawmakers are faced with a debate over whether to formally authorize President Obama to take action against the extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the fact that he’s essentially claimed that authority under old post-9/11 authorization has kept the issue on the back burner.

“This is unusual because typically you authorize before actions are taken,” says Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who will helm a hearing on ISIS Wednesday. “In this case, people have been watching for six months and have a lot of questions as to whether they really are committed to dealing with ISIS. So that makes the dynamic here different than probably any authorization in modern history.”

“It’s not like anybody necessarily is going to feel a sense of urgency to act because they know it’s not going to alter the [current or immediate] operations in any way,” he told TIME.

The congressional war powers debate is one many members wished to avoid. Democrats, many of whom were elected on an anti-Iraq war platform, are especially wary of approving any resolution that would give the President the go-ahead to send troops into another Middle East quagmire. And if Republicans vote to approve what’s known as an authorization for use of military force—or an AUMF—they could open themselves up to criticism if the White House strategy fails.

But now, a few weeks after the White House sent over its war powers request, Congress will begin the politically divisive and solemn responsibility of debating the use of military action against a brutal enemy that split off from al-Qaeda a year ago. The first step will be to figure out what the role of U.S. troops should be.

Corker, who says he grabs breakfast with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger every two or three months and recently held a long phone call with another former Secretary of State to discuss the ISIS threat, is just as confused as a back-bench Congressmen with five words in the White House’s war powers request: “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” The White House’s proposed ban on such activities has led to head scratching across the aisle and will be the focus of intense hearings over the coming weeks.

“That’s part of what people are hoping to understand,” says Corker, who adds that the 700,000 U.S. troops involved in the Gulf War could not classify as an “enduring” operation. “Obviously they haven’t limited enduring defensive [operations and] they haven’t limited Special Ops … But what does that mean?”

“I think ‘enduring’ is defined however the White House intends it to be,” says Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr. “I don’t know whether that’s a week, three weeks, a month … I’d rather go into this with the President asking for more than he needs and not use it as much than not asking for enough and not following through with the mission.”

Some Republicans would like to see the Administration interpret those five words to allow the President to send in ground troops against ISIS. No Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted for a Democrat-led AUMF late last year that would have limited ground operations to intelligence collection, operational planning and the protection of U.S. troops from “imminent danger.” Over the past several months, Senate Republicans have met with top Administration officials, including White House counsel Neil Eggleston, and lobbied for expanded authority on the ground.

“It wasn’t just a message to us, it was input from our side too,” says Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake of the Administration meetings, where he says Republicans pushed back on any “strict prohibition” of ground troops.

“What the president put forward reflects a lot of what I think Republicans have wanted,” he adds. “Obviously we didn’t like the product that the Democrats pushed through the committee in December; we thought that that was too restrictive. This is better but we’ll see what works in the process.”

Burr, for example, thinks that the draft should be even broader to explicitly allow the President to send in troops. “I don’t think he does [have that authority] the way it’s written,” he says.

Much of the opposition to the AUMF will come from the President’s party on this issue. While some Democrats are trying to change the draft’s wording to include greater geographic or time constraints, many more will pressure Obama to ban in the AUMF what he said he would in an accompanying letter: “long-term, large-scale ground combat operations.”

“I think it’s quite open-ended,” says California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of the AUMF. “When they say no enduring offensive operations, that means there will be offensive operations. And when you ask, ‘What is the definition of enduring?’ No answer comes back. So that’s a big problem for me—huge.”

Asked if she supports the AUMF as written, Boxer added: “No, no, no, no, no.”

There are other concerns from liberal Democrats who believe that the Administration should be authorized to attack ISIS only in Syria and Iraq. But most Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have dismissed that idea and the White House’s draft doesn’t include such restrictions.

“I don’t think you do a geographic limitation,” says Boxer. “How can you? These guys sprout all over the world. You’ve got to take the fight to them. Not say we’re only going to go after them in these two places. Then they can go to other places and they know they’re free—that doesn’t make sense.”

Other progressives have expressed concern that the White House draft only repeals a 2002 Iraq AUMF and not another written in the aftermath of 9/11, which the White House has been using to go after ISIS. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a member of the House Democratic leadership, has called the 2001 AUMF a “blank check” for indefinite war while hawks like Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who is exploring a White House bid, has called it the “the cornerstone of the war on terror.”

Most Democrats, however, are pleased that the AUMF proposes a rare self-imposed foreign policy constraint: a three-year “sunset” in which the next president would have to go back to Congress for reauthorization.

“If it’s open ended like that foolish thing the Senate voted for on Iraq—I was one of the 22 who voted against it—I’d vote no,” says Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. “Let’s see what it says though.”

Complicating the political calculus are libertarian-minded Republicans like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has written his own AUMF that is more restrictive than the White House’s war powers request, including how the roles of troops are defined. With Rubio and Paul, another Senator considering a White House run, on the same panel at the center of the debate—and a wide gulf between many Democrats and President Obama—the AUMF debate could become exactly what Corker fears most.

“What I hope doesn’t happen: that this in some way dissolves into some partisan exercise,” he says.

TIME White House

Obama Vetoes Keystone Pipeline, Only 3rd in Presidency

Keystone Pipeline
Andrew Cullen—Reuters A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, N.D. on Nov. 14, 2014.

President Obama issued his first veto since 2010, striking down a law that would authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, a major symbolic battle between environmental activists and the oil industry.

“Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest,” Obama said in a statement.

The pipeline would help link up to 830,000 barrels a day from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast oil refineries. Over the past six years, the project has become one of the highest-profile environmental debates in the country and could pose problems for some Democratic candidates in the 2016 presidential cycle.

But with low oil prices, the 1,179-mile pipeline will likely have less of an effect on both the environment and economy by lowering the chance that it will be completely utilized. The State Department reported last year that the pipeline would indirectly and directly support around 42,000 jobs over two years, but would only employ around 50 people once the pipeline was functional.

The new Republican-led Congress decried the veto before the ink was dry. In a USA Today op-ed, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote that the Administration had blocked a job-creating project to heed the voices of special interests.

“The allure of appeasing environmental extremists may be too powerful for the president to ignore,” they wrote. “But the president is sadly mistaken if he thinks vetoing this bill will end this fight. Far from it. We are just getting started.”

“This shouldn’t be a difficult decision,” they added. “It shouldn’t be about politics, that’s for sure.”

Of course, the Keystone debate has drawn lobbyists on both sides of the aisle and a reason why Senate Republicans brought the bill up first was because it would pass and draw a favorable political contrast. Polls show that around 60% of Americans agree with the GOP’s position.

The Keystone veto was only the third in the Obama presidency.

TIME 2016 Election

Republican Presidential Hopefuls Stay Out of Senate Fight on Immigration

Sen. Rubio (R-FL) Discusses Obama's Shift In Cuba Policy
T.J. Kirkpatrick—Getty Images Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) reacts to U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement about revising policies on U.S.-Cuba relations on December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC.

The path to the White House does not lead through Congressional gridlock.

As Congress heads toward a showdown over immigration and the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, the three Republican Senators who are considering running for president are staying on the sidelines.

Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are hanging back from the fight, letting others like Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions lead the strategy and take the megaphone. Top national Republican strategists say that’s a smart move, given the difficulty of scoring a clean win in this legislative mess.

“The main disadvantage of being a sitting senator is that your opponents and the media force you to own every controversy during every legislative fight, even though some outcomes are usually out of your control,” said Kevin Madden, a senior aide in former Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.

The Homeland Security funding fight is also a particularly bad one to champion. The current Republican strategy is to risk a shutdown of the agency in an attempt to force President Obama to override his own executive actions to defer deportations for millions in the U.S. illegally. But many of the related programs are paid for by fees, which means a shutdown won’t affect them, while polls show the public will blame Republicans for a shutdown.

“This is working out exactly the way the President and Democrats want it to work out,” says Rob Jesmer, a top member of FWD.us, a pro-immigration reform group, and former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“We’re not going to look very good,” he added of Republicans. “No one is going to look very good. The sooner this gets behind us the better it is.”

The fight has already caused headaches for one potential White House suitor. After he simply noted that Republicans don’t have enough votes in the Senate to pass a bill override Obama’s executive actions, Rubio faced headlines in conservative media that said he had “caved,” “folded” and “retreated,” even though he had stopped short of actually calling for a spending bill without conditions.

Paul and Cruz, meantime, haven’t paid any price back home for laying low.

Ray Sullivan, a chief of staff of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, says that Cruz faces “no negative ramifications” in the state by going bold on the immigration fight. “From my standpoint, most Texans didn’t notice the difference and appreciated the willingness to take principled stands to try to shrink the size and scope of the federal government,” he says of the 2013 government shutdown, in which Cruz played an outsized role.

“If you’re looking at it in the context of who’s going to be blamed, who’s fault is it and what’s the political ramifications of it, to me it’s clear: we’re here because of Obama, we’re here because of Senate Democrats,” says Scott Jennings, a top GOP consultant based out of Kentucky. “I would stay focused on Barack Obama. This is his fault, we’re here because of him.”

“I think that’s how people here in Kentucky view it,” he adds.

Paul, Cruz and Rubio have portrayed themselves as disrupters and outsiders who came to fix Washington. That message is reinforced by a hard-line position on Obama’s “executive overreach.” Even if the particular strategy is ineffective, voters may be more focused on a broader theme each of the prospective candidates presents. Madden, the Romney aide, notes that whatever image the candidate creates may be more important than any particular D.C. bout.

“Primary voters in early states that shape the presidential field respond more to their overall sense of where a candidate is on big issues,” says Madden. “Are they strong on national security? Smart and in touch on the economy? They tend to shape those opinions based on what they see and hear from candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire instead of what’s taking place on the floor of the Senate.”

But the Homeland Security battle is a reminder of Washington’s “gridlock and breakdown,” according to Sullivan, and could help a governor candidate who not only takes principled stands but delivers results in his or her state.

“Members of Congress who are running or contemplating running for president will be weighted down by their association with Washington DC,” he says. “Our party has generally nominated governors who are far outside of the Beltway.”

TIME

U.S. To Fine Japanese Air Bag Company $14,000 Per Day

US-TRANSPORTATION-TAKATA
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images Senior Vice President, Global Quality Assurance, for Takata Corporation Hiroshi Shimizu testifies before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Nov. 20, 2014.

“For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says

The U.S. government said it will fine the Takata corporation $14,000 for every day it refuses to comply with its investigation into the safety of the company’s air bags.

The company’s air bags, which have been known to explode in a shower of shrapnel upon releasing, have been linked to the world-wide recall of 25 million cars and at least six deaths, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Takata’s Air Bag Recall

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday that U.S. regulators will levy the fine until the Japanese air-bag supplier cooperates with the investigation. He also called for federal legislation to “provide the tools and resources needed to change the culture of safety for bad actors like Takata.”

“Safety is a shared responsibility and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Secretary Foxx. “For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine.”

Takata said that it was “surprised and disappointed” by the new fine and fired back that the company has met “regularly” with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration engineers to identify the cause of the safety problems. The corporation added that it has given nearly 2.5 million documents to NHTSA during its investigation.

“We strongly disagree with their characterization that we have not been fully cooperating with them,” said Takata in a statement. “We remain fully committed to cooperating with NHTSA in the interests of advancing auto safety for the driving public.”

Bloomberg reports that the fines could hit a maximum of $70 million under U.S. law.

TIME France

U.N. Human Rights Group Condemns Chelsea Fans Over Racist Incident

"It is important to build on the outrage created by this snapshot of the ugly face of racism"

The United Nations human rights group has condemned the Chelsea soccer fans who shouted racist chants and prevented a French citizen of African descent from boarding a train before a Champions League game in Paris this week.

A video showing the incident has gained worldwide attention, and renewed calls for racism to be stamped out of the world’s most popular sport.

“In recent years we have been engaging in discussions with [football associations] about exploring ways to enhance the effort to drum racism out of football after numerous examples of racist behavior by football fans, especially inside stadiums,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Friday. “It is important to build on the outrage created by this snapshot of the ugly face of racism, to re-energize the effort to combat it in all its forms wherever it occurs,” he added.

The episode occurred on Tuesday in a Paris Metro station before a game between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain. Chelsea suspended three people from its Stamford Bridge home after the incident and called the behavior “abhorrent.”

International soccer leagues have attempted for years to counter racism evident on and off the field, with mixed success.

 

 

 

 

TIME Secret Service

Top Republican Watchdog Slams Secret Service Director Pick

Joseph Clancy
Susan Walsh—AP Acting Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, in 2014.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz says they should have picked someone from outside the agency.

A top Republican critic of former Secret Service director Julia Pierson is not pleased with the Obama Administration’s pick to be her successor.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz said Wednesday that the appointment of acting director Joseph Clancy contradicts the recommendation of an independent panel created by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of the embarrassing White House fence-jumping incident in September. Clancy’s appointment over Sean Joyce, a former deputy director of the F.B.I, extends the agency’s 150-year history of being led by a Secret Service agent, according to the New York Times.

“Only a director from outside the Service, removed from organizational traditions and personal relationships, will be able to do the honest top-to-bottom reassessment this will require,” argued the report, which was released in mid-December.

Chaffetz said in a statement that it was “disappointing” the President “ignored” the panel’s recommendations.

“The panel made it crystal clear that only a director from outside the agency would meet the needs of the agency today—someone with a fresh perspective, free from allegiances and without ties to what has consistently been described as a ‘good old boys network,'” he said. “The good men and women of the Secret Service are screaming for a fresh start. At this moment in time, the Secret Service would best be served by a transformative and dynamic leader from outside the agency.”

Pierson, the first female Secret Service director, resigned on Oct. 1, a day after a poor performance before Chaffetz’s committee and revelations that an armed security contractor with an arrest record was improperly screened and allowed onto an elevator with the President. A last straw for Pierson was that she did not inform Obama of the security breach.

Chaffetz wished the best for Clancy even if he disagreed with the appointment. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight committee, said he was also ready to work with the new director.

“Joe Clancy has taken strong action over the past several months to begin righting the ship at the Secret Service, he has been extremely responsive to Congress, and his decisive leadership has already resulted in major changes,” said Cummings. “I look forward to working with him closely over the next year to ensure that the Secret Service gets what it needs to fulfill its critical mission.”

TIME Congress

Judge’s Order Bolster Republicans in Immigration Fight

Obamas Attend National Prayer Breakfast
Dennis Brack—Pool/Getty Images President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5, 2015 in Washington, DC.

A federal judge’s order on immigration appears to have steeled some Capitol Hill Republicans’ resolve to fight President Obama over his plans to defer deportations for millions in the U.S. illegally.

The Obama administration had been set to begin implementing part of the November executive actions Wednesday, offering work permits and other documents to millions of undocumented immigrants, many of whom are parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents.

That plan is now on hold as the Obama administration appeals the judge’s order.

But the fight on Capitol Hill continues, with congressional Republicans hoping to use annual funding for the Department of Homeland Security to force the White House and Senate Democrats to capitulate.

Speaker John Boehner used the judge’s order to repeat his view that Obama overstepped his authority.

“The president said 22 times he did not have the authority to take the very action on immigration he eventually did, so it is no surprise that at least one court has agreed,” he said, in a statement echoed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We will continue to follow the case as it moves through the legal process. Hopefully, Senate Democrats who claim to oppose this executive overreach will now let the Senate begin debate on a bill to fund the Homeland Security department.”

Boehner’s comments were echoed by other Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who said Democrats were exhibiting the “height of irresponsibility” in blocking the funding bill.

Republicans have struggled for weeks to get any Senate Democrats on board with their strategy of using the Feb. 27 funding deadline to pressure the President into caving on his own executive actions. They’ve even lost a handful of Senate Republicans and Boehner—as of this weekend—is “certainly” prepared to let the agency run out of money. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson believes that 30,000 government employees could face furloughs.

Meantime, the court fight will grind on. The White House plans to appeal the decision in the 5th Circuit, which could postpone the president’s actions by a month or two “at the very least,” according to Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration expert at Cornell University Law School who believes the president’s actions are lawful. He told TIME that it’s “unlikely” that “a lot” of people would be deported as the courts continue to hear the case.

“It’s always a chance,” he says. “If they’re stopped for a traffic violation and the local police turned them over to the federal immigration authorities they could be put into deportation proceedings. But even then they have to go before an immigration judge and a … hearing can take several months.”

TIME Crime

North Carolina Shooting Suspect Had Threatened Neighbors Before

Hicks was a "self-appointed watchman" of his apartment complex

The man accused of killing three Muslim students in North Carolina this week had threatened his neighbors before, according to a new report.

Craig Stephen Hicks was a “self-appointed watchman” of his Chapel Hill apartment complex, the New York Times reports. Hicks knocked on the door of two of the future victims—Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Deah Shaddy Barakat— last fall to complain about the the amount of noise they made while playing the board game risk Risk, neighbors recalled, and was holding a rife at the time—though he wasn’t pointing it at anyone.

The shooting ignited outrage and suspicion that it was motivated by anti-Muslim bias, though authorities have said preliminary investigation indicates it may have been sparked by an ongoing parking dispute. Hicks has been charged with three counts of first degree murder.

[NYT]

TIME Congress

Republicans Battle Each Other Over Changing Senate Rules

Ted Cruz
Lauren Victoria Burke—AP Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speak to reporters on Dec. 13, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Senate conservatives oppose their wish to change the rules to pass a controversial bill

A vocal crew of frustrated House conservatives called for a change of Senate rules Thursday, sparking a war of words with their Republican Senate colleagues, who defended the rights of Democrats to block legislation to undo legal residency President Obama has promised for millions of undocumented immigrants.

“I think when you have a president doing things that are unconstitutional, everything should be considered to stop that,” says Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a conservative leader.

The response was quick from the other side of the Capitol building. “Change the Senate rules?” said Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is exploring a campaign for the Republican nomination in 2016. “No way. That’s crazy.”

Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee, two of the most conservative members of the Senate, said they did not agree with their House conservative allies. “For many decades the Senate rules have protected the rights of the minority and as a result the Senate functions, as the Framers put it, ‘as a saucer to cool the hot tempers of the moment,'” Cruz told TIME in a short interview. “The problem is not the Senate rules. The problem is that Senate Democrats have chosen to filibuster funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Democrats right now are engaged in partisan obstructionism.”

At issue is a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which is facing a February 27 funding deadline. If Congress doesn’t pass a DHS spending bill, the agency will partially shut down and potentially furlough some 30,000 employees.

Republicans believe that the deadline gives them leverage to pass riders stripping away the President’s immigration actions, including a 2012 program granting temporary deportation relief to young adults who came to the country illegally as children. But they’ve ran into a united Senate Democratic bloc and failed three times last week to put the House bill on the Senate floor with the 60 votes needed. With only 54 Senate Republicans—and a few publicly calling for a shift in strategy—House and Senate conservatives have split over what to do next.

“They can change them today,” says Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador of the Senate’s filibuster rules. “They don’t need to wait for six or seven senators to decide to bring the bill to the floor.” He referenced the Democratic decision to scrap filibusters of federal judges and other Presidential nominees in the last Congress. “The Democrats changed their rules last time,” Labrador continued. “I know there’s a lot of tricks in the Senate and they should be applying one or all of those.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office says no proposal to change Senate filibuster rules is under consideration.

Democrats have called for a “clean” bill without any of the immigration amendments.

“All they got to do is send over a clean DHS bill and it’ll pass in a matter of hours,” says Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy.

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