Washington – They have not been the best of friends over the years but on Friday night it was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who came to the aide of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio). She brought the votes that the Speaker needed to help avoid a partial government shutdown at the last minute, late Friday night.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a surprise move to back legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for one week. Pelosi’s support helped Boehner (R-Ohio) move the one-week bill through the House in a 357-60 vote just after 10 p.m., with 55 Republicans and 5 Democrats voting against it. The Senate passed the one-week funding bill in a voice vote.
President Obama signed the bill just before midnight and DHS was funded at least for one more week.
The eleventh-hour votes in Congress had forced the Obama administration to begin preparations for a partial government shutdown, with DHS releasing a 47-page contingency plan spelling out which employees would have been “essential” and forced to work without pay at agencies like the Coast Guard, Secret Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Earlier in the day, House Democratic leaders had whipped their members against legislation that would have funded DHS for three weeks, and the bill failed 224-203.
The defeat of the three-week bill was a humiliating defeat for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and left his leadership team scrambling for a path forward as a bloc of their conservative members refused to vote for any funding bill that did not reverse President Obama’s executive actions on deferred deportations for illegal immigrants.
Pelosi came to the rescue late Friday evening, sending a letter to Democrats urging them to vote for a one-week continuing resolution (CR) of Homeland Security funding without any immigration riders.
GOP leaders in Congress hope to come up with a bill that they can support before next Friday. The Senate passed a bill this week funding DHS through September.