The 3 possibilities in the shutdown showdown over Homeland Security

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Two exit ramps and a DHS shutdown
  • Possibly closer to a short-term fix?
  • Obama could issue Keystone veto as early as today
  • Kerry testifies on the Hill, as support for ground troops to fight IS increases

DHS funding showdown — four days, three possibilities: With four days left until the Department of Homeland Security runs out of funding (Friday at midnight), the politics remain complicated but the options for Congress are simple: (1) Let DHS funding run out, (2) Fund the agency for the rest of the year, or (3) Punt — keep the agency funded for a few weeks or months. By the way, this funding crisis probably isn’t the last one we’ll see this year. There are more within view — in coming months, the U.S. will again hit its debt ceiling and the Highway Trust Fund will go into the red if Congress doesn’t act. To the latest on this DHS fight …

Short-term deal rising? For now, option 2 — full-year funding — seems to be out as the GOP debates whether and how to express its opposition to the president’s immigration policies. But there is some movement among Senate Republicans toward what Congress does best — option 3, punt with a potential short-term funding deal. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell flexed his fiscal-crisis-avoidance muscles Monday, with a bill that would separate the immigration issue from the DHS funding vote. The McConnell plan would allow Republicans to vote on the President Obama’s expanded immigration waivers from November, but detach that vote from a funding bill. And, the leader hopes, this will allow Congress to get unstuck. Meanwhile, as Morning Line reported yesterday, a few GOP senators in swing states are starting to indicate they want a simple or “clean” funding fix now.

Consistent aisle crosser: A sidenote: while the votes on this logjam have split mostly along party lines, one senator to watch has consistently voted against his party. Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller has repeatedly voted with Democrats to block Republican bills that attach Homeland Security funding to repeals of the president’s immigration policy. It must be that he’s up for re-election in a purple state, right, you may be thinking? No. Heller’s next on the ballot in 2018. There is a larger bipartisan theme with Heller, including a series of bills he has sponsored recently with Democrats. But it’s potentially politically problematic for Heller to be against issues important to Latinos in Nevada when they make up three-in-10 people in the state.

What will the House do?: The wild card here is the House. We don’t know what it will do. McConnell has pointed to the House, but while the House Republican conference appears split, Speaker Boehner continues to hold the line that Senate Democrats need to fix it. Members begin arriving back in Washington today, with their key meeting set for tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. EST at the Capitol. And how exactly does that Texas court case factor into all this? As they discuss strategy, Republicans in both chambers continue to buzz about the ruling, which froze the November immigration action. Some in the GOP fold argue for funding DHS long enough to let the court case work to its next level (or beyond). But that is likely months. And others believe Congress must act separately from the court ruling.

Obama expected to veto Keystone as early as today: Keystone XL Pipeline legislation will head to the president’s desk today and will be vetoed by the president as early as today. Don’t expect a public event surrounding it. “I wouldn’t anticipate a lengthy delay,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. “Everybody is acutely aware of the administration’s position on this, so I wouldn’t anticipate a lot of fanfare or drama.” House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell penned an op-ed in USA Today accusing the president of playing “politics” with the pipeline and catering to “liberal extremists.” “A veto now would be the ultimate sop to these extremists at the expense of the greater good,” the write. The White House insists the president’s veto is about the “process” not the merit of the project itself, which continues to go through an executive approval process. At one point, years ago, it looked as if the president was moving toward approving the pipeline, but most would be surprised, at this point, if he does so.

Kerry testifies before Senate as U.S. support for ground troops to fight IS increases: Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before two Senate committees today at 10 a.m. EST and 2:30 p.m. EST. Expect him to get questions on the administration’s response to the Islamic State militant group and the situation in Ukraine. It’s worth pointing out that with the highly public IS killings, support among the American people for U.S. engagement has increased. A CBS poll from last week showed that 57 percent of Americans now support using ground troops to fight IS, a reverse from September. Even a majority of Democrats — 50 percent — say they are in favor, as do 53 percent of independents and 72 percent of Republicans.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1868, the House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson. The Senate later acquitted him, but why was Johnson impeached? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to MAY 6 ‏(@luis_juniorr) for guessing Monday’s trivia: How many times did assassins try to kill Lincoln before John Wilkes Booth’s successful attempt? The answer: 2.


  • During a visit to first primary state New Hampshire, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio responded to a question about his immigration stance, saying that the deportation of 12 million people is “not a realistic proposal.”

  • In his annual budget address Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to announce that he and the teachers’ union have agreed upon a “roadmap to reform” to help close the deficit. On Monday, a state Superior Court judge ruled in the unions’ favor, saying Christie violated the constitution when he did not make full payments into their pension fund.

  • And after a series of campaign swings for the midterms (and his own possible presidential bid), Christie’s giving the New Jersey town-hall another shot Wednesday in Moorestown.

  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s potential candidacy is a large shadow looming over Rubio’s possible White House bid, particularly when it comes to his donor pool.

  • For team Hillary the 2016 strategy will be to show the softer side of Clinton, and let her surrogates go on the attack, unlike in 2008.

  • At least nine possible GOP candidates will be speaking at the American Enterprise Institute’s World Forum in Georgia in early March.

  • As the economy improves, Republican presidential hopefuls are turning to foreign policy to separate themselves from Democrats.



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