Update: The Republican-led House has rejected a short-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, increasing the likelihood of partial shutdown of U.S. anti-terror operations at midnight.
In a statement, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen urged House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on a Senate bill that passed earlier today. "We cannot afford the consequences of an agency shutdown,” Shaheen said.
According to the Associated Press, if funding for DHS expired at midnight, an estimated 200,000 of the department's 230,000 employees, including airport security personnel and immigration agents, would remain on the job, either because they are deemed essential or because their pay comes from fees.
Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire voted today in favor of legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September.
Shaheen, a Democrat, said passing the legislation, which is at the center of an impasse over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, was the “right thing to do” for national security.
“We all understand that we need to support the Department because it’s critical to defending our homeland,” Shaheen said in a statement. “It is time for House Republicans to follow the Senate’s lead, put politics aside and pass this legislation to prevent any disruption in homeland security funding.”
The short-term spending bill passed easily in the Senate by a 68-31 vote. But it faces strong opposition in the House, where some GOP members want to continue fighting the president’s orders to delay the deportation of about 4 million undocumented immigrants.
Ayotte, a Republican who is up for re-election in 2016, had backed previous legislation that tied homeland security funding to reversal of the president’s actions, which were temporarily halted by a federal judge last week.
But earlier this week, she backed a compromise by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to fund the department through the current fiscal year while scheduling a separate vote to defund the immigration measure. That bill - which Shaheen opposed and Ayotte supported - failed to receive the 60 votes needed to advance.
In a statement, Ayotte said supporting so-called “clean” spending bill was critical to maintaining homeland security operations.
“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.” Ayotte said.