Under the Dome

Homeland funding votes clarify a political fault line

Five votes related to funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tested North Carolina’s congressional delegation into late Friday. The state’s 10 Republicans and three Democrats in the House and two Republican U.S. senators were on different sides of the issue that touched on national immigration policy, terrorism concerns and keeping a government agency open.

Without agreement on funding, the homeland department – which includes the Secret Service, customs and border patrol departments, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration ‑ was set to partially shutdown at midnight Friday, furloughing about 30,000 workers.

The crisis was averted at the last minute, but still looms – funding is now in place for one week.

The funding issue has been tied to immigration executive orders signed by President Barack Obama. Now temporarily in effect, those orders provide work authority and waivers from potential deportation to hundreds of thousands of young people known as “dreamers” as well as to four million-plus parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents born before Nov. 20, 2014 who are in the United States unlawfully.

Conservative Republicans were especially vocal on the issue, saying those orders are against the law and that providing funding for them is wrong. Others, Republican and Democrat, have said closing a government agency over that issue was irresponsible.

Here’s a recap of how it unfolded, and how North Carolina’s delegation stood.

Vote One: Senate funds Homeland Security

The U.S. Senate, with 68 voting for and 31 against, first passed a bipartisan appropriations bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security at an annual rate of $39.7 billion through Sept. 30 – the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. The bill would fully fund the 231,000-employee, 16-agency department and keep it open. This “clean” bill was free of provisions to block Obama’s immigration orders.

The N.C. vote: North Carolina’s senators, Republicans Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, voted no.

Vote two: Defunding of immigration orders barely fails

The Senate separately took up the issue of funding for the immigration orders. But with 57 for and 42 against, the Senate failed to reach 60 votes needed to end Democratic blockage of a GOP-drafted bill that would defund Obama’s two executive orders on immigration.

Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, spoke in support of defunding: “We cannot let this Congress go down in the history books as the Congress that established a new precedent that we will fund any imperial decree that violates established American law.”

A yes vote opposed the presidential immigration orders and would advance the bill.

The N.C. vote: Burr and Tillis both voted yes.

Vote Three: House leaders’ effort to fund fails

The U.S. House did not vote on the Senate’s “clean” funding bill.

It instead took up a three-week funding bill, backed by House Speaker John Boehner, that would have financed every aspect of the Department of Homeland Security except the president’s immigration orders. This is the vote that generated the most headlines on Friday.

In the absence of a House-Senate agreement on new funding, the homeland department moved on a track to partially shut down at midnight. This vote had been taken with seven hours to go.

House Democrats opposed the three-week funding bill because Republican leadership wouldn’t allow a vote on the “clean” Senate bill.

House conservatives opposed it because they wanted to press the fight against the president now.

Together, they teamed up to defeat the effort, in a setback for Boehner and the House leadership who had held open the vote and appealed to members to switch and support it.

This vote especially serves a measure of a political fault line within the Republican party in the House – and in North Carolina’s delegation. A yes vote was to pass the bill as House Republican leaders wanted, but it failed in a 203-224 vote.

Republican supporters were in line with the current leadership. Republicans who went against the bill did not.

N.C. Republicans who supported the bill: Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx, George Holding, Patrick McHenry, Robert Pittenger and David Rouzer.

N.C. Republicans who defeated the bill: Richard Hudson, Walter Jones, Mark Meadows and Mark Walker.

N.C. Democrats who supported the bill: None.

N.C. Democrats who defeated the bill: Alma Adams, G.K. Butterfield and David Price.

Vote four: The Senate presents an alternative

After the House failed to come up with a plan, the Senate then passed a one-week funding bill.

There was no roll call of the vote.

Vote five: House agrees to fund for one week

Voting 357-60, the House then passed a bipartisan bill to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security by one week, through March 6. This vote took place at about 10 p.m. Friday – with about two hours to spare before the partial shutdown would officially begin – and was a factor in picking up the much deeper level of support.

Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, urged support: “To allow a shutdown of these critical (security) functions would be an abdication of one of our primary duties as members of the House. It is no way to govern the nation, and the American people deserve better.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Obama, who signed it into law.

No member spoke against the bill.

The N.C. vote: Four North Carolina House members – all Republicans – who bucked the leadership on the three-week funding bill held firm. They were among the 60 votes also in opposition to the stopgap, one-week measure.

They were: Hudson, Jones, Meadows and Walker.

News & Observer wire services contributed to this report.