House Speaker John Boehner has announced that the Department of Homeland Security may be facing a shutdown as soon as the end of the month. Democrats and Republicans are blaming each other if the department shuts down due to a dispute over its budget. The debate over the budget is caught in the balance of a larger conflict over President Obama’s immigration procedures.
A bill has been passed in the House of Representatives that would extend funding through September 30. It also contains a controversial clause that would overturn Obama’s policies on the deportation of illegal immigrants. Although most Republicans in the Senate are in favor of repealing the president’s immigration policies, Democrats have been able to block further discussion on the bill in the Senate.
Boehner told Fox News Sunday that the House had done what it set out to do when it passed the bill. However, Democrats are calling for a “clean” version of the bill, without any language regarding immigration. The president has said that if the bill comes before him in its current form, he will veto it. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters last week that the Senate was “stuck.”
Republicans believe that the language on immigration included in the bill is needed. They want to curb Obama’s authority. Boehner said that the president is overstepping his bounds when it comes to immigration. He believes that Obama has defied his oath of office and the Constitution.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern that the Department of Homeland Security is facing a shutdown. Senator John McCain appeared on TV Sunday morning and said that the Senate simply needs to sit down and work out their issues. “You cannot cut funding for the Department of Homeland Security,” he said. Democrats believe that the situation can be worked out “if only Speaker Boehner will get out of the way.” Without a significant change in the language regarding immigration, leading Democrats are not certain the situation can be resolved.
Republicans and Democrats, caught in a stalemate, are now discussing who is to blame for the imminent loss of funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Boehner said that it will be the fault of Senate Democrats if funding runs out. He believes strongly that the sections of the bill regarding immigration should not be discarded and is willing to let the Department of Homeland Security shut down if it cannot be passed without changes.
Democrats, on the other hand, will blame Boehner if a version of the bill is not passed. Senator Chuck Schumer said that Boehner “knew exactly what he was doing” when he included language relating to immigration in the bill. Democrats believe that Republicans need to be willing to give up their crusade against Obama’s immigration policy, or at least pursue it by other means instead of packing it into a bill as important as the one for funding of the Department of Homeland Security.
With the Department of Homeland Security facing an imminent shutdown, lawmakers must also consider the consequences if it does not receive funding. Most employees of the Department of Homeland Security fall into a category of employee that must still report for work in the event of a shutdown. Almost 200,000 employees would be required to keep working without pay if Congress fails to provide funding.
By Kirstin Pinto