Sen. Coats backs compromise to avoid Homeland Security shutdown

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Senate Democratic leaders have agreed to a compromise Wednesday on Capitol Hill, in an attempt to avoid a partial government shutdown.

But the looming threat is far from over. Funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out Friday.

The Republican-controlled Congress had tied funding DHS with blocking President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. But the proposal, put forth by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, would first fund homeland security on a “clean” bill, and then take up immigration later.

A growing number of Republicans, like U.S. Senator Dan Coats from Indiana, are backing the compromise.

“We’ve never seen something like this before on our homeland,” Coats said. “And I’m not going to sit by and say because I don’t get everything that I want on an issue that’s not directly related to this, that I’m going to close down this department.”

The move is one hardline conservatives strongly oppose.

“I understand their fight,” Coats said. “I want to accomplish the same thing they want to accomplish. We’re on the same page there. It’s a question of strategy.”

The agreement in the Senate is a breakthrough. After four blocked attempts, Democratic leaders said they will back McConnell’s compromise, funding homeland security without immigration.

But in the House, the proposal faces the most uncertainty.

“It’s going to be a challenge this week,” Rep. Luke Messer (R-Indiana) said in an interview this week. “From the House’s perspective, we believe we’ve acted. We funded the Department of Homeland Security, and we’ve also tried to stop the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty.”

The Senate voted 98-2 Wednesday to open debate on the House bill.