McConnell offers exit strategy for DHS funding impasse, bill’s fate uncertain

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday offered a new plan to potentially break the impasse over legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security — but it remained unclear whether the plan could clear Congress before a looming funding deadline.

Funding for DHS expires at midnight Friday, and McConnell’s change in tactics comes after Democrats repeatedly blocked a Republican-authored bill to both fund DHS and reverse President Obama’s controversial immigration actions.

Democrats have long said those issues should be addressed separately. On Tuesday, McConnell agreed to that demand, and said he would split the issues into two bills.

“I’ve indicated to the Democratic leader that I’d be happy to have his cooperation to advance a consideration of a clean DHS bill,” McConnell said, referring to legislation that would fund the department without any immigration provisions attached.

He added: “I don’t know what’s not to like about this.”

Under McConnell’s plan, the Senate would vote on a DHS funding bill, and also vote on a separate bill to unravel Obama’s November immigration actions. Those executive actions would allow millions of immigrants in the country illegally to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

But Senate Democrats, asked about McConnell’s new approach, signaled its success all depends on whether House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans are on board.

“Unless Boehner is in on the deal, it won’t happen,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.

The Democratic leaders did not say how they planned to vote on the “clean” bill, absent such a commitment from Boehner.

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