House leader vows to stay in session until homeland bill is done

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Wednesday he would keep the House in session until Congress sends a homeland security bill to the White House, decreasing the odds that the House would break for the elections by Oct. 11 and increasing the likelihood of some type of lame-duck session.

"I think we ought not to leave until we have the homeland security bill," Hastert said in a brief interview. "We're going to have to come back until we get it done."

Hastert did not rule out recessing at the end of next week, but the statement puts pressure on the Senate to get beyond its impasse over homeland security, which involves how much flexibility the president should have over personnel regulations in a Homeland Security Department.

One of the many exit strategies being discussed by House leadership involves passing a series of short-term continuing resolutions after Oct. 11, with the House reconvening for one or two days each week until the homeland security bill is done.

"It's a definite possibility," said a Hastert spokesman. "We want to get the homeland security bill. The speaker wants to get it done. The president wants to get it done."

A House leadership source concurred, saying there is "not a burning desire to get out of town," especially with the Senate hung on the homeland security bill. And coming in one day a week to pass another CR or take care of some business would not distract too much from the November campaigns, this source added. But no decisions on how to proceed have been made, and options are still being mulled over.

For instance, House Republicans feel they could score politically if they follow the short-term CR route and stay in to showcase the Democratic-controlled Senate's inability to get an agreement on one of the president's priorities. They also feel they could gain politically by getting an agreement to recess until after the elections and then beat up on Senate Democrats for failing on the homeland security front.

Still, the impasse over homeland security in the Senate and the GOP reaction in the House seems to make it less likely that leaders can agree before the November elections to a long-term CR that could get them into next year. "It makes it less probable," acknowledged one House leadership source.

The uncertainties pertaining to homeland security, Iraq, possible add-ons to the CR and the likelihood that Senate Democrats would not want to do a long-term CR makes negotiating one in the next week or so difficult at best, the source said. Still, Republicans are preparing to ratchet up talks on that front to see what is possible and what is not.

"Between now and next week, we'll have to have a CR that will get us at least past the election," said House Chief Deputy Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Meanwhile, the House is expected to take up another weeklong CR Thursday, funding the government through Oct. 11. The language is likely be the same as the current CR, which expires Friday.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.