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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today, which marks one week until the Department of Homeland Security shuts down unless Congress acts:
“With just one week left before the Department of Homeland Security runs out of funding, Congress must act swiftly to pass a clean funding measure to ensure our homeland security agencies have the resources needed to meet the challenges we face. If the Republican-controlled Congress shuts down the Department on February 27, thousands of agents would be furloughed, along with thousands forced to work without pay, and first responders across the country would be left without important federal support.
“Democrats continue to support a clean bill at the funding levels agreed to by both parties in December, and every Member of our Caucus would join with Republicans to send such a bill to the President – without the partisan provisions that hold our homeland security hostage to deporting millions of immigrant children and their parents. If Republicans want to change our immigration policies, they ought to bring a comprehensive immigration reform bill to the Floor and work in a bipartisan way to enact it. I strongly urge the Speaker and Majority Leader to let the House vote this coming week to keep the Department of Homeland Security open so that it can keep ore Americans safe.”
Homeland Security runs out of money this week unless Congress actsFeb 22, 2015William Douglas, McClatchy Washington BureauWASHINGTON -- Congress will return to work Monday with only four days left to pass a Department of Homeland Security funding bill and avert a partial agency shutdown and the furlough of about 30,000 federal employees.
Most of the department's employees would be deemed "essential" and kept working even if the Congress and President Barack Obama don't agree in time. The nation's airports, borders and political leaders would continue to be protected during a partial shutdown.
But even those who work would be unsure of their paychecks until Congress finds a way to fund the agency beyond Friday, when it runs out of money.
The operative word on Capitol Hill is "stuck." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been unable to move a bill that would provide the department with $40 billion through September, because of a Democratic filibuster over added language that would reverse some of Obama's executive actions on immigration.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, isn't budging on his demand that McConnell's Senate act on the bill passed by the House and not look to his chamber for help.
"The House has done its job under the Constitution," Boehner said. "It's time for the Senate to do their job."
Democrats and a few Republicans in both chambers are pressing for a "clean" bill, without the immigration-related amendments, arguing that not funding the department when the Islamic State and other groups are committing terrorist acts worldwide would be political suicide.
The White House will try to keep the heat on Congress when Obama hosts a nationally televised town hall meeting on immigration Wednesday in Miami.
Even though Senate Democrats are blocking the bill, most Americas would blame Republicans if there's a partial shutdown, according to a CNN/ORC poll released this week.
Fifty-three percent of poll respondents would blame congressional Republicans for a Homeland Security closing, while 30 percent would blame Obama, the survey found. Only 13 percent of those surveyed Americans blamed both congressional Republicans and the White House.
Some lawmakers, such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., think a federal judge in Texas threw Congress a lifeline last week when he issued an injunction blocking Obama's actions to shield from deportation more than 4 million immigrants who live in the United States illegally.
"It's not a good idea . . . to shut down the Department of Homeland Security," McCain said Thursday on MSNBC. "And now we've got a perfect reason to not shut it down because the courts have decided, at least initially, in our favor."
But instead of softening the debate, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's ruling appears to have hardened both sides.
"Senate Democrats -- especially those who've voiced opposition to the president's executive overreach -- should end their partisan filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding," McConnell said after Hanen's decision.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, "Democrats' offer to first fund Homeland Security and then debate immigration stands. All Republicans have to do is say yes."
Outside groups are pressuring lawmakers to hold the line.
"What we want is for Congress to pass a clean DHS bill and for the parties to come together to pass a comprehensive immigration bill," said Hector Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.
Kevin Broughton, communications director for the Tea Party Patriots, said it was time for Republicans to make good on campaign vows to address Obama's executive actions.
"The point is that Republicans last fall went hard against executive amnesty. ... Now is not the time to lose your nerve," he said
With the fate of the funding bill uncertain, the agency is preparing for a possible partial shutdown. DHS officials said 30,000 employees -- about 15 percent of its workforce -- might be furloughed.
That group would include 5,500 of the Transportation Security Administration's employees but exclude federal air marshals.
Front-line divisions such as the TSA, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Coast Guard would continue to operate.
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