With Senate Democrats again blocking Republicans from presenting a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security, a DHS shutdown grows more likely by the day.
Republicans, according to The Hill, have attempted to use the funding bill as “leverage to try and roll back the president’s executive actions on immigration” before the department runs out of money on Feb. 27.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson warned that a lack of funding for the department would cause a “terrible disruption.”
“A shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security in these times is frankly too bitter to contemplate, but we have to contemplate it,” Johnson said. “It is horribly unfair to ask people in the critical role of Homeland Security to come to work and not get paid because Congress can’t fund the department.”
If a shutdown occured, the majority of employees would continue to work without pay. These employees, deemed essential, would more than likely be paid eventually. The other 30,000 employees with the DHS, comprised of administrative and headquarters staff, would be furloughed during the shutdown.
“The bulk of DHS management and headquarters administrative support activities would cease, including much of the homeland security infrastructure that was built following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to improve command, control and coordination of frontline activities,” DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron said.
Democrats blamed Republicans for the conflict, saying that they were playing politics by purposely attaching amendments aimed towards rolling back on President Obama’s executive orders on immigration to a spending bill.
“In a time when the world is united in trying to send a strong signal about confronting ISIS and defeating ISIS, I think putting veto bait in the funding for homeland security is a very bad idea,” Sen. Claire McCaskill said. “It is an awkward time for them to try to mire this down in presidential immigration politics.”
Republicans, on the other hand, blamed Democrats for refusing to debate the bill.
“It’s our view that the president acted in an unconstitutional fashion, and we understand what the House did, but we hope they understand our constraints as well,” Senator John McCain said. “But we cannot shut down the Department of Homeland Security with the threats that we have from ISIS and overseas.”