The Department of Homeland Security has been caught in the crossfire between the White House and Republican members of Congress over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. House Republicans combined funding with DHS and rolling back President Obama’s executives actions in hopes of forcing Democrats to vote against the White House’s immigration policies.
Senate Democrats decided they would rather risk DHS – a controversial agency in its own right – being shutdown than vote to roll back Obama’s executive actions. Now that the bluff was called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scrambling to find a way to keep DHS funded with a deadline of Friday.
One odd aspect of this standoff is that a federal judge in Texas has already blocked the implementation of President Obama’s executive orders making the vote seemingly unnecessary – at least for now.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took steps Monday to prevent a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security by splitting off legislation attacking President Obama’s immigration actions from the funding fight. The Kentucky Republican is seeking to fast-track legislation to eliminate two new immigration programs launched by Obama late last year, while allowing a 2012 initiative targeting younger immigrants to continue as designed.
McConnell’s move sets the stage for separate votes on a measure to fund the Homeland Security Department (DHS) past Friday and to dismantle Obama’s unilateral efforts to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. A House-passed proposal combining those two efforts had hit a wall in the Senate, where Democrats on Monday united for a fourth time this month to block the measure over their opposition to the provisions undoing Obama’s executive actions.
Since its establishment after 9/11 DHS has grown into a monster agency which now has over 240,000 employees and contains 22 previously separate federal departments and agencies. Even a partial shutdown will have considerable effect on federal workers and the functioning of the government.
Then again, perhaps this is a good moment to consider why we have such a massive agency to protect the homeland at all.