WASHINGTON – Senior Republican senators said they expected Congress will avoid a shutdown over the Department of Homeland Security, which faces a partial shutdown on Friday amid a GOP push to roll back President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson pressed lawmakers to resolve the deadlock, expressing frustration at what he described as finger-pointing between House and Senate lawmakers over who is to blame if Congress fails to enact a spending bill to keep the department running.
“First of all, it’s absurd that we’re even having this conversation about Congress’s inability to fund homeland security in these challenging times,” Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” In the same interview he also expressed concern about a Somali-based Islamist militant group’s threats to Western malls, including the Mall of America in Minnesota.
Johnson noted that if lawmakers allow a funding lapse, the department would have to furlough some 30,000 employees and others working in such areas as aviation security and maritime security would be forced to come to work without a paycheck, as well as halt DHS support for state and local law enforcement.
House Republicans had passed a budget bill that would reverse some of Obama’s immigration initiatives, which shielded undocumented immigrants from departation, but Senate Deomcrats have blocked the Senate from considering that bill in three separate votes.
Moderate Republican senators said Sunday they think a shutdown can be avoided by focusing on challenging the Obama adminstration’s immigration policies in the courts.
John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and member of the Homeland Affairs Committee, said on CBS program “Face the Nation” that he thinks a shutdown will be avoided this week if Republicans focus on a legal strategy on immigration.
“I think that’s the best way we can resolve this,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, echoed McCain’s statement on the “ABC This Week” program.
“I hope my House colleagues will understand our best bet is to challenge this in court. That if we don’t fund the Department of Homeland Security, we’ll get blamed as a party,” he said.
House Republicans have said Obama would take the blame for jeopardizing national security if DHS funds are cut off. Some conservatives have downplayed the consequences, saying there would be no interruption in the agency’s critical protective missions.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.