The state Republican and Democratic parties are trading charges Friday afternoon against Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte after they split their votes on a failed Senate attempt to overturn President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration.
With the clock ticking toward a partial Department of Homeland Security shutdown, both senators voted for the so-called “clean” bill to allow continued funding of the agency. That bill passed, 68-31.
Ayotte also supported the separate bill put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to overturn Obama’s 2014 executive orders on immigration. Shaheen opposed it. That bill received 57 votes in favor and 42 against; it failed because 60 votes were needed to move the bill forward.
Noting that four Democrats favored overturning the Obama actions, Republicans accused Shaheen of flip-flopping. Democrats accused Ayotte of playing “damage control” by voting as she did on each bill to “appease her base” and try to keep herself in contention for 2016 vice presidential consideration.
Shaheen called funding DHS “the right thing to do for our country ando ur national security.” She has not yet issued a statement on her vote against blocking the Obama executive action. But last August, she opposed dealing with immigration through executive orders.
Her spokesman told the Washington Post at that time she “believes Congress must address our broken immigration system with a comprehensive fix, and would not support a piecemeal approach issued by executive order.”
Shaheen also voted in September in favor of a procedural move spearheaded by conservative Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to block Obama’s 2012 executive action allowing young immigrants brought to the United States as children to temporarily stay.
“It’s clear that Senator Shaheen’s pledge to oppose President Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders on immigration was nothing more than a phony election year promise,” charged NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn. “Senator Shaheen’s dishonest flip-flop on the President’s illegal executive orders is shameful and proves that she deliberately lied to voters about her actual position on this issue.”
State Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley noted that Ayotte voted repeatedly to tie DHS funding to overturning the 2014 executive action before McConnell pulled back and separated the two issues.
“Kelly Ayotte and her Tea Party colleagues have pushed the Department of Homeland Security to the brink of a shutdown after holding funding for our national security hostage for weeks,” Buckley said.
“While Ayotte is now in full-on damage control mode, she won’t be able to re-write history on her repeated votes to put New Hampshire communities at risk in order to appeal to her base and try to keep herself in the Veepstakes.”
Explaining her votes, Ayotte said, “It’s critical that we ensure continued funding for our nation’s homeland security operations, and I voted in support of legislation that funds DHS for the rest of the fiscal year.
“I continue to oppose the president’s sweeping 2014 executive action on immigration, which a court has found exceeded his legal authority, and I voted in support of a separate bill that would have defunded the President’s action,” Ayotte said. “While the court injunction currently prevents the administration from carrying out the President’s executive action, I support ensuring that his executive action can never be carried out and further challenging his illegal actions through the court system.”
The “clean” DHS funding bill quickly moved to the House, with funding for the department set to expire tomorrow.