Senate passes temporary fix to avoid Homeland Security shutdown

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval on Friday to a one-week stopgap spending bill for the domestic security agency, averting a partial shutdown with just hours to spare before a midnight deadline.

After a chaotic day that featured an embarrassing rebuke to House Speaker John Boehner from angry conservatives, the House voted 357-60 to keep the lights on at the Department of Homeland Security for at least one more week.

The Senate had already passed the one-week extension a few hours earlier, and President Barack Obama is expected to quickly sign it.

The dizzying twists and turns in the days-long political battle raised fresh questions about Boehner’s ability to manage his caucus of restive conservatives and the prospects for legislative achievement in the new, Republican-run Congress.

Earlier on Friday, the House had rejected a three-week funding extension for the agency when Republican conservatives rebelled because the bill did not block Obama’s executive orders on immigration. On a second try late in the evening, House Democrats provided the votes to pass a one-week extension.

Democrats said they were optimistic a bill with nearly $40 billion in funding for the full fiscal year for the department, already passed by the Senate, would advance in the House next week.

In urging her fellow House Democrats to support the one-week extension, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to members: “Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week.”

The extension will give both chambers of Congress more time to work out their differences on funding for the agency that spearheads domestic counterterrorism efforts.

But Boehner could risk fresh challenges from conservatives if he puts up for a vote the Senate’s “clean” funding bill without the immigration restrictions.

The political battle was triggered by House Republican efforts to use the Homeland Security spending bill to block funding for Obama’s executive orders that lifted the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented residents.

If the Homeland Security funding had not been extended by midnight, spending authority would be cut off for the agency that secures U.S. borders, airports and coastal waters. The agency would be forced to furlough about 30,000 employees, or about 15 percent of its workforce.

Nearly 200,000 workers, including airport and border security agents and Coast Guard personnel would stay on the job, but would not be paid until new funding is approved.

Created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the department is a super-agency that encompasses the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration and immigration, customs and emergency management authorities.

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