Senate Republicans are being sent home for recess with a message touting their persistence on funding homeland security while blocking President Barack Obama's executive actions.
"Dems voted three times to filibuster House-passed DHS funding bill," says a tri-fold card of talking points distributed to GOP senators. "Blocking debate on a bill like this is exactly the kind of gridlock voters rejected in the election."
The pamphlet, shared with CQ Roll Call by a GOP source, suggests Republicans have yet to give up on winning the public relations argument over funding the Department of Homeland Security, with less than a week left to act when the Senate returns from the Presidents Day recess.
The Republican Conference "State Work Period Tri-Fold" highlights that Democrats have made statements in the past expressing opposition to the extent of Obama's executive actions, adding the "only way for the Dems to change the bill is to agree to debate it in the first place."
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that point on the floor.
"If our Democrat colleagues don’t like provisions in the bill the House has passed, the Senate has a process for modifying bills. It's called amending them. But the Senate can only consider amendments to a bill if it’s not being filibustered," the Kentucky Republican said.
Asked again about why Democrats have unified against taking up the House-passed DHS spending measure and trying to amend it, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said "you don't negotiate with a gun to your head, no one does. It's plain and simple, and we're not doing it. The American people know we're not doing it."
"Our Republican colleagues know what's going on," Schumer said, calling the back and forth between House and Senate GOP leaders about the next move a "game of Abbott and Costello."
"The only good news is, my view, they'll have no choice but to back off," Schumer said. "They'll do it at the last minute, but they'll look awful in how they've handled themselves."
The GOP pamphlet highlights a number of other issue areas, including touting passage of the Keystone XL pipeline approval legislation, with Republicans encouraged to continue to push Obama against his certain veto, as well as drawing a contrast between the president's budget and GOP proposals on taxes and spending.
It also encourages GOP lawmakers to tout the number of roll call votes on amendments during the first work period under GOP control, which has more than doubled the total in 2014 under then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Schumer had a rejoinder Thursday for the argument that Reid was too quick to block amendments from the floor using the procedural maneuver known as filling the amendment tree. In rolling out a GOP "report card" for the first work period, Schumer quipped that "this Congress, there has hardly been a tree to fill."
On foreign policy, however, the GOP card indicates that Republicans should make clear they will give serious consideration to Obama's request for an authorization for the use of force against the ISIS terror group, arguing on one hand that the world is "less stable" than when Obama took office, but adding "the president's AUMF request is a starting point for a full debate."
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