As the clock ticked down to midnight on February 27, it looked as though the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was going to run out of the short term cash Congress earlier appropriated for the department through a continuing resolution (CR). But, at the last minute, the House caved in to agree to yet another CR proposed by the Senate that would fund DHS for … one more week, when the DHS funding debate began all over again.
The Senate passed the one-week extension to fund DHS in an attempt to prevent the shutdown of DHS in an adamant show of defiance against the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act (HR 240) passed by the House in December that contained controversial amendments politicians on both sides of the aisle knew along would sabotage the House funding bill in the Senate, which it did despite the GOP’s control of the Senate.
Most Senate Democrats, along with a few realistic senior Republicans, had stated all along they would not vote for the bill if the amendments were attached. But they were anyway and the House passed its FY DHS funding bill — despite the bipartisan opposition to the amendments attached to it by a cadre of Republicans backed by the Speaker of the House. The amendments would have defunded the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and other presidential executive orders related to immigration which the ultra-right wing members of the House wanted attached to the bill because they believe the President’s executive orders exceeded his constitutional authority. There was considerable debate over whether the amendments should be attached to DHS’s funding bill.
This wasn’t a political game to be played with DHS’s funding in the balance. After all, on February 17, Texas US District Judge Andrew S. Hanen temporarily blocked Obama’s executive orders in response to a lawsuit filed by 26 Republican-run states. The judge ruled the administration doesn’t have the power “to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the Department of Homeland Security itself labels as ‘legal presence.’ In fact, the law mandates these illegally-present individuals be removed.”
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson quickly announced the department would abide by the judge’s stay on the executive orders until it was resolved in the courts.
Read the complete report here in the March/April issue of Homeland Security Today.