U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen predictably split in a key vote today to begin debate on a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that also would have reversed President Obama’s recent executive action blocking the deportation of about 5 million illegal immigrants.
The vote to begin debate was 51-48 in favor, but 60 votes were needed to move the legislation forward. The bill also would have funded DHS through Sept. 30 at a cost of 40 billion. All Senate Democrats were in opposition.
“I voted to start debate on this legislation, which provides funding for our nation’s homeland security operations. It also would reverse the president’s unilateral actions on immigration – actions that he said more than 20 times he didn’t have the authority to take,” said Republican Ayotte.
“This legislation should receive a full debate with opportunities for members of both parties to offer amendments, and it’s unfortunate that Senate Democrats voted against even allowing debate on this bill. Republicans and Democrats must work together to find a path forward that ensures continued funding for the Department of Homeland Security and addresses the president’s executive actions on immigration.”
Shaheen, a Democrat, said, “As I’ve said repeatedly in recent days, we should not play politics with critical resources that keep our country safe. Using Department of Homeland Security funding as a political bargaining chip to advance other issues is both reckless and dangerous. Last week I introduced legislation that would fully fund the agency for the remainder of the fiscal year, without any extraneous policy riders attached, and it’s time for us to act on that bill.”
While Shaheen did not directly accuse Ayotte of “playing politics” with the bill, the state Democratic Party did so on Monday.
“Instead of just talking about national security on Fox News, it’s time for Kelly Ayotte to stand up and support a clean bill to protect our country and fund the Department of Homeland Security without any partisan policy riders,” said party spokesman Aaron Jacobs.
“Homeland Security secretaries from both parties have warned against the dangers of playing politics with funding for our national security, and it’s time for Kelly Ayotte to listen to the voices of reason in her own party and stop risking a shutdown of the agency responsible for protecting against cyber-attacks and securing our borders,” Jacobs said.
Ayotte spokesman Liz Johnson responded, “This is an absurd attack by the Democrats since it is they who are vowing to block legislation passed by the House that funds the Department of Homeland Security. Senator Ayotte supports continuing funding for our homeland security operations, as the House bill would do, and she (voted) to proceed to the bill.”