GOP Shutdown Looming for Department of Homeland Security

Feb 21, 2015

GOP Shutdown Looming for Department of Homeland Security

The federal agency responsible for the U.S. Border Patrol, airport security, the Coast Guard, Customs enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Secret Service is just days from shutdown unless House Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell can break the political impasse that threatens to shutter the Department of Homeland Security on February 27.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been running under a stop-gap funding mechanism since October.  There are no major disputes over what the funding numbers for the Department and its many important programs should be; these were worked out months ago on a bipartisan basis. 

Rather, the problem is that a small number of conservative House Republicans have demanded that the President reverse the Executive Order he issued in December regarding our nations’ broken immigration system as the price for allowing the lights to stay on at the Department of Homeland Security.  While many – including Rep. Levin – warned that doing so would put U.S. national security at risk, on January 13 the House approved a DHS funding bill that was loaded down with poison-pill amendments that would tie the President’s hands on immigration.  Weeks later, with time running out, the Senate has refused to consider the House-passed bill. 

You may remember that in 2013, the Senate passed by a bi-partisan vote of 68 to 32 a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  Unfortunately, Senator Boehner refused to even allow a vote on this legislation, and House Republicans have not been able to agree on their own approach to fixing our broken immigration system.  Instead of shutting down a major Department, the President has made it clear that he would welcome legislation to address immigration for the long-term.

It is clear that the only bill that has the votes to pass the House and Senate is a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill without any controversial policy riders.  Rep. Levin and 191 other House Members have sponsoredH.R. 861, which is a clean DHS funding bill, and the White House has indicated that the President would sign it.  Yet Speaker Boehner has so far refused to allow the bill to come up for a vote in the House.

With so many terrorist threats facing us, and especially considering the recent deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, it is time for congressional leaders to stop playing games with national security and approve a clean funding bill.