The two parties must reach a deal to continue funding the Homeland Security Department.
House Republicans have made their initial offer in what is likely to be drawn out negotiations to reconcile their caucus’ desire to end President Obama’s executive action to defer deportation for millions of immigrants with the administration’s priority to fund the Homeland Security Department past February.
For now, Democrats have balked at the proposal, saying only that Republicans are setting the course for a department shutdown.
“It is clear Republicans’ partisan recklessness knows no limits,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday. “House Republicans are threatening a partial government shutdown, choosing a time of rising terrorism to imperil the security of our entire country to satisfy the most radical anti-immigrant fringes of their party.”
The proposal, put forward by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., would boost DHS’ fiscal 2014 funding to $39.7 billion for fiscal 2015, but would fully roll back Obama’s action. That measure is expected to receive a veto from Obama, should it move successfully through the House and Senate.
While lawmakers still have six weeks to reach a deal to satisfy both sides, a DHS shutdown is still in the realm of possibility. The effect of such a move would be limited, however. Most employees -- exempted because their jobs are considered “emergency work involving the safety of human life or protection of property” -- would still report to work. Additionally, by Rogers’ own admission, a shutdown would not block Obama’s action from being carried out U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a fee-funded agency within DHS that is largely unaffected by lapses in appropriations.
Still, Republicans expressed doubt that Obama would actually go through with shutting down one of the federal government’s largest departments.
"We want to get this to the president's desk so that we can get a signature, funding Homeland Security at a very [tenuous] time in the world," Rogers said when unveiling his bill Friday. "I would wonder whether the president would have real deep misgivings about not signing a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security."
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has said the current continuing resolution has already damaged the department by creating funding uncertainty. Pelosi advocated giving Johnson and DHS the stability for which it has asked.
“Republicans must abandon this spectacularly dangerous tactic,” she said, “and come together with Democrats to restore certainty to the funding of Homeland Security.”
(Image via Flickr user House Democrats)