ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
With just two days before the Department of Homeland Security is out of money, a deal to prevent a shutdown is starting to move through Congress. The Senate is in the process of passing a clean funding bill - that is one without provisions to block President Obama's executive actions on immigration. Those provisions have been at the center of the month-long stalemate. Republicans insisted on the language. Democrats insisted they wouldn't allow it. NPR's congressional reporter Juana Summers is at the capital with the latest, and Juana, where do things stand right now?
JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: Here is what's happening. The Senate is moving ahead with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to pass what we call a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Democrats joined with Republicans on a 98 to 2 vote to bring that bill to the floor. Senate leaders really want to see a final vote on this bill on Thursday, and that would then put the ball in the House's court, as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said earlier today.
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SENATE HARRY REID: We look forward to working with our Republican colleagues in the next 24 hours to get this done. All eyes now shift to the House of Representatives as soon as we pass our clean funding bill.
SIEGEL: All right. Let's shift our eyes to the House of Representatives. Does this plan stand a chance there?
SUMMERS: In the House things are a little bit more complicated. House Republicans met this morning to talk about their options. It's the first time they've met this week. And after that meeting was all said and done, it was not clear whether or not they had the appetite for this plan. This morning after that meeting, House Speaker John Boehner said that the House was in wait-and-see mode while the Senate does its work. And he, of course, noted, as he has been doing, that the House has already passed a bill to fund the Homeland Security Department. Now, that bill, of course, ties funding to repealing the president's executive actions on immigration which is a priority of many House conservatives.
Those conservatives this morning were outwardly hostile towards Senate Majority Leader McConnell. They say they think he's caved and is undermining Republicans' pledge to oppose President Obama for going around Congress on immigration. So it's not really clear right now whether or not the House actually will have the votes it needs to pass it. For a sampling of what I heard, here's what Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon told reporters earlier.
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CONGRESSMAN MATT SALMON: The voters believe that in November Harry Reid was going to be dethroned and that the Senate was going to be controlled by Republicans. I'm sad to say that hasn't happened. Right now Harry Reid's still running the Senate.
SIEGEL: What about House Speaker John Boehner? Where does he stand on this deal?
SUMMERS: That's really interesting. He actually has not weighed in on the merits of this plan. In fact, earlier today, Boehner told members of his caucus in that closed-door meeting that he and Senate Majority Leader McConnell hadn't spoken in two weeks. That surprised a lot of the Republican lawmakers I spoke to as they came out of this meeting. Now aides say that's not something to read too much into. They say that the staffs of the two chambers of Congress have been in communication over the past two weeks, including during the weeklong recess that just ended. And also worth noting, Boehner and McConnell did meet this afternoon for more than 40 minutes. So there seem to be some discussions face-to-face going on right now.
SIEGEL: OK, Juana. Thank you.
SUMMERS: Thank you.
SIEGEL: That's NPR congressional reporter Juana Summers joining us from the Capitol.
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