Then again the Republicans tried to strike down President Obama’s Executive Actions on immigration with the bill, but those are just details…
To be frank, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only has federal funding for 23 more days. After the February 27th deadline, DHS funding runs out. That would mean DHS would be in a technical shutdown with only “essential” government employees coming into work without pay. While this scenario wouldn’t be the end of the world per say – a government agency like DHS could stay afloat for a considerable amount of time – it’s still one you would rather not find yourself in.
Well Senate Republicans had an idea to fund the DHS! Interestingly enough, Senate Democrats voted against the bill and were able to block it from leaving the chamber.
Their problem? Passing the GOP funding legislation would also force President Obama to undo his executive actions on immigration that protects many unauthorized immigrants from deportation.
When Congress passed the 2015 fiscal spending bill late last year, Republicans in Congress purposefully underfunded DHS in hopes that it would become the battleground for President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The idea was simple, hold DHS funding as a bargaining chip so many – if not all – of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration would be undone. Everyone basically knew what the GOP had in mind, so no one was really surprised when Republicans tacked on the provisions of undoing the executive actions to DHS funding.
The question now stands, where do we all go from here?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had alluded to a back-up plan if this bill were not to pass. Republicans at this point have a few options. They could pass a “clean bill” (aka a bill that would just fund DHS with nothing tacked on) and fight President Obama’s executive actions in another form. Or they could create legislation that attacks specific parts of the executive actions (like the DACA program for young unauthorized immigrants) while still funding DHS. They could even do nothing and play a game of political chicken with DHS funding (honestly that outcome absolutely NO ONE wants because many still feel the political pains from the last time Congress shutdown the government).
It’s hard to say what will happen next, but one thing is for certain, DHS is too vital of a government branch to be underfunded for too long. You can already see the political ads being made against those running for re-election in 2016. Hopefully for that reason alone, DHS gets their funding sooner rather than later.
(Photo Credit: DHS.gov)