Congress sends Homeland bill to Obama without conditions

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Congress sends Homeland bill to Obama without conditions
Congress has passed legislation that will fund the Department of Homeland Security without touching President Obama's immigration actions, bringing an end to a months-long battle that threatened to shut down an agency tasked with helping protect the U.S. against terrorist threats. In a 257 to 167 vote, the House passed a "clean" Homeland Security funding bill on Tuesday without provisions that would curtail the president's executive orders on immigration.
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) walks through the House side of the US Capitol February 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Later today the House will vote on a three week continuing resolution for funding the Department of Homeland Security. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to the chamber as the House failed to advance a short-term funding measure to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded past a midnight deadline, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday evening, Feb. 27, 2015. Conservatives in Speaker Boehner's own party fought against three-week funding measure because it would not overturn Obama’s actions on immigration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., speaks during the Senate Democrats' news conference to urge Speaker Boehner bring the fully funded DHS bill up for a vote in the House on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., speaks during the Senate Democrats' news conference to urge Speaker Boehner bring the fully funded DHS bill up for a vote in the House on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: From left, Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., participate in the Senate Democrats' news conference to urge Speaker Boehner bring the fully funded DHS bill up for a vote in the House on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent waits as a group of undocumented men, not pictured, are deported to Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is nearing a partial shutdown as the agency's funding is set to expire Friday -- something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said wouldn't happen on his watch. Photographer: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent removes handcuffs from undocumented men being deported to Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is nearing a partial shutdown as the agency's funding is set to expire Friday -- something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said wouldn't happen on his watch. Photographer: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent waits as a group of undocumented men, not pictured, are deported to Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is nearing a partial shutdown as the agency's funding is set to expire Friday -- something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said wouldn't happen on his watch. Photographer: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A U.S. Border Patrol agents stands outside his vehicle next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is nearing a partial shutdown as the agency's funding is set to expire Friday -- something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said wouldn't happen on his watch. Photographer: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent directs a group of undocumented men being deported to Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is nearing a partial shutdown as the agency's funding is set to expire Friday -- something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said wouldn't happen on his watch. Photographer: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents speak as an undocumented man is being deported to Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is nearing a partial shutdown as the agency's funding is set to expire Friday -- something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said wouldn't happen on his watch. Photographer: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A United States Border Patrol agent rides an ATV vehicle a few hundred meters north of the U.S.-Mexico border on February 26, 2015 in San Diego, California, USA. In the background is the city of Tijuana, Mexico. (David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A U.S. Border Patrol agents stands outside his vehicle next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is nearing a partial shutdown as the agency's funding is set to expire Friday -- something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said wouldn't happen on his watch. Photographer: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent waits as an undocumented man is received by Mexican immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is nearing a partial shutdown as the agency's funding is set to expire Friday -- something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said wouldn't happen on his watch. Photographer: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jeh Johnson, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), center, speaks during a news conference with former secretaries of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, right, and Michael Chertoff, at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. Financing for the DHS is set to lapse after Friday and the agency would face a partial shutdown unless Congress provides new money. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jeh Johnson, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), speaks during a news conference with former secretaries of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, not pictured, at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. Financing for the DHS is set to lapse after Friday and the agency would face a partial shutdown unless Congress provides new money. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sign stands at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. Financing for the DHS is set to lapse after Friday and the agency would face a partial shutdown unless Congress provides new money. More than 200,000 government employees deemed essential at DHS, including Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, would still have to report to their posts, even though their pay would stop unless Congress finds a solution. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to the chamber as the House failed to advance a short-term funding measure to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded past a midnight deadline, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday evening, Feb. 27, 2015. Conservatives in Speaker Boehner's own party fought against three-week funding measure because it would not overturn Obama’s actions on immigration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
From left, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, to appeal for a long-term clean funding bill for the Homeland Security Department just hours before a shutdown was to begin. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., leaves the chamber after lawmakers failed to advance a short-term funding measure to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded past a midnight deadline, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday evening, Feb. 27, 2015. GOP conservatives in Speaker Boehner's party fought against the three-week funding measure because it would not overturn Obama’s actions on immigration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., holds up a copy of the Constitution while talking to reporters as House Republicans emerge from a closed-door meeting on how to deal with the impasse over the Homeland Security budget, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. GOP lawmakers have been trying to block President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration through the funding for the DHS which expires Friday night. Sounding retreat, House Republicans agreed Thursday night to push short-term funding to prevent a partial shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security while leaving in place Obama administration immigration policies they have vowed to repeal. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), at center, reads a letter she sent to colleagues in congress, urging support for a DHS stopgap funding bill, during a news conference with Democratic leaders including, from left, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) at the U.S. Capitol on February 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. The House failed earlier today to pass a 20-day stopgap bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, after previous Senate and House versions of DHS funding bills were rejected by the other chamber, threatening to shut down the deparment with no clear resolution. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the Senate floor for the votes on funding the Department of Homeland Security on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: The U.S. Capitol is seen at dusk as the U.S. Congress struggles to find a solution to fund the Department of Homeland Security on February 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. The DHS budget is set to expire at midnight this evening after the House of Representatives failed to pass a short term funding bill earlier today. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), at center, reads a letter she sent to colleagues in congress, urging support for a DHS stopgap funding bill, during a news conference with Democratic leaders including, from left, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) at the U.S. Capitol on February 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. The House failed earlier today to pass a 20-day stopgap bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, after previous Senate and House versions of DHS funding bills were rejected by the other chamber, threatening to shut down the deparment with no clear resolution. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday called on fellow Drmocrats to support the one-week stopgap funding bill. The U.S. Senate on Friday approved a the bill to avert a partial shutdown at midnight of the U.S. domestic security agency, leaving it up to the House of Representatives to either approve the bill or let the shutdown go ahead.
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WASHINGTON (AP) - Bitterly admitting defeat, the Republican-controlled Congress sent legislation to President Barack Obama on Tuesday that funds the Department of Homeland Security without any of the immigration-related concessions they demanded for months.

"Sanity is prevailing," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, before the House voted 257-167 in favor of the $40 billion spending bill, which Obama was expected to sign promptly. All 182 Democrats present voted for the bill, while it received only 75 Republican "yes" votes.

"I am glad that House Republicans finally came to their senses," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, a top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee.

The outcome averted a partial agency shutdown that would have begun Friday at midnight. It was a major victory for Obama and the Democrats, and a wholesale retreat for Republicans, who have spent months railing against an "unconstitutional overreach" by Obama in extending deportation stays and work permits to millions of immigrants in this country illegally.

In the end Republicans who'd tried to use the DHS spending bill to undo Obama's actions had little to show but weeks of gridlock and chaotic spectacle in the wake of assuming full control of Congress in the November midterm elections. The turmoil brought the Homeland Security Department to within hours of a partial shutdown last Friday before Congress passed a one-week extension, and raised questions about Republicans' ability to govern.

On Tuesday morning, addressing an uncharacteristically subdued gathering of House Republicans, Speaker John Boehner indicated he was out of options.

"I am as outraged and frustrated as you at the lawless and unconstitutional actions of this president," Boehner told his caucus. "I believe this decision - considering where we are - is the right one for this team, and the right one for this country."

"Our Republican colleagues in the Senate never found a way to win this fight," he added, noting that the matter is now in the courts. A federal judge last month put Obama's directives on hold, a ruling the White House is appealing.

Conservative lawmakers who humiliated Boehner last week by voting down a three-week spending bill he proposed did not speak up in the private meeting, people present said. Afterward, they said they were disappointed but had no more moves to make.

"I don't know that there is one," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. "This is the signal of capitulation."

The measure passed Tuesday funds the Homeland Security Department through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year. It pays for Transportation Security agents, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, a host of immigration-related functions and grants to local governments, among other priorities.

There have been suggestions that Boehner would face an insurrection by tea party-backed conservatives if he brought a "clean" DHS bill to the floor. But Boehner's opponents seemed resigned, and there was little sign of a brewing coup.

Indeed, several Republicans said Tuesday that the outcome was inevitable. Many had campaigned for re-election last fall on promises to stop Obama on immigration, and cheered when Boehner promised to fight the president's moves "tooth and nail." Yet several acknowledged they never had a real plan to do so, given Obama's veto pen and Senate Democrats' opposition.

The GOP strategy was especially risky given the Homeland Security Department's anti-terrorism responsibilities, which gave Democrats an opening to accuse Republicans of putting national security at risk.

"We all knew how this was going to end," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.

The drama unfolded as a lesson in the limits of divided government.

The fight was set up last fall, when Boehner and GOP leaders convinced House conservatives to wait until this year to try to overturn Obama on immigration, when the GOP would command control of the Senate and bigger majorities in the House.

Congress passed a full-year spending bill for the rest of the government, but kept the Homeland Security Department on a short leash to use its spending bill as the vehicle to oppose Obama.

Republicans hoped that the handful of Senate Democrats who'd voiced concerns about Obama's immigration actions would join them. But the DHS spending bill the House passed in January was yanked to the right by conservatives, undoing not only Obama's most recent executive actions but an earlier directive, from 2012, that extended protections to immigrants brought illegally to the country as kids.

That helped unify Democrats against it, and Senate rules did the rest. Republicans control only 54 votes in the chamber, not the 60 needed to advance most legislation, and Senate Democrats blocked the House bill repeatedly.

In the end, the House contingent that opposed Boehner could do little but bemoan what had become a foregone conclusion. As the drama neared its conclusion Tuesday they offered a few final procedural moves - forcing the reading clerk to read part of the bill out loud, and offering a motion to table - but they had no hope of prevailing.

"I believe this is a sad day for America," said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., one of the hardliners. "If we're not going to fight now, when are we going to fight?"

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