The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is set to run out of funds on Friday, February 27, 2015. Unless a new funding bill is passed by midnight on that date, 30,000 DHS employees will be furloughed while 240,000 DHS will be required to stay on the job without pay because their work is essential for America’s safety.
As of late February, 2015, Congress is still stalemated on the funding. The crux of the stalemate is GOP opposition to President Obama’s executive order on immigration. On November 20, 2014, after 1 ½ years of the House’s inability or unwillingness to address immigration by acting on legislation passed by the Senate, the President issued an executive order on immigration, shielding up to 4 million parents of American citizens and up to 1 million other people living in the U. S. without proper documentation from deportation.
The Republicans deem the President’s executive order “a power grab” and “overreach.” In order to combat the executive order, the Republican-dominated house passed a $40 billion funding bill vital to the DHS but with controversial immigration amendments essentially negating the executive order. As it stands, if the DHS funding bill does not pass with its controversial immigration amendments, the DHS will be at least partially shut down. Though the bill passed the House, it has lingered in the Senate, where Democrats have defeated the bill 4 times. Furthermore, the President has vowed to veto the bill if it somehow passes in the Senate.
Meanwhile, Republicans are enduring some heat in view of the most recent terrorist shootings in Paris, highlighting the importance of a strong domestic defense and by statements from the DHS Chairman Johnson that shutting down DHS “is not good for the homeland security of this nation, it is not good for public safety, and it is not in the public’s best interest.”
At this nearly-11th hour, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed removing the controversial amendments from the DHS funding bill so it will pass and introducing another bill barring the use of federal funds to carry out the President’s executive order on immigration. McConnell’s approach is receiving some approval and, in fact, seems necessary due to the original bill’s repeated failure in the Senate and its probable inability to overcome a Presidential veto even if passed.
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