There’s another deadline showdown coming between Congress and the White House at the end of this month. It’s not about budgets, the debt ceiling or Obamacare this time, it’s about immigration. President Obama intends to go forward with his executive order to help out millions of people living in the US be able to stay here legally. The House decided to try and stop him by attaching amendments that strip funding for immigration to the Department of Homeland Security funding bill that needs to pass by February 27. Boehner refuses to pass a clean bill, and believes he can try and blame this on Senate Democrats.
The Department of Homeland Security is the newest government bureaucracy in Washington DC. In the days after September 11, President Bush announced the creation of this new agency to handle terrorist threats in the United States. The bill to create the DHS passed through Congress with almost bipartisan support. 7 Democrats in the Senate and 111 Democrats in the House voted no. In those days no one wanted to appear weak on fighting terrorism, so many bills were passed with bipartisan support, such as the bill to create the DHS and the Patriot Act.
Once Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, they decided that it would be used as an umbrella department for 22 other government agencies, including FEMA, INS, the Coast Guard, TSA and the Secret Service. If the deadline comes and the bill isn’t passed, not only does DHS lose their funding, but all of those other essential government agencies lose their funding too. This doesn’t mean all of the people who work for those agencies get to take a vacation until some middle of the night deal is hashed out, they are essential services. They have to keep working whether they get paid or not. Something to remember if you plan on flying soon, and your friendly TSA agent is patting you down to make sure you’re not hiding a bomb in your underwear.
Why on earth would Congress lump all of those government agencies into DHS? Didn’t they know something like this could possibly happen? That’s why the Republicans did this back in 2002. They wanted to make sure no one tried to defund Homeland Security, so they tied all of these other agencies into it and made them all rely on funding in the same spending bill. The rationale for doing it was also to put all of these agencies into a single department, which is how most other countries handle national security.
Now, Republicans think they can once again shut down the government and blame it on the Democratic Party. What’s fun about this is President Obama’s used an executive order in a way Republicans don’t like, so now they have to threaten to shut the government down. This is potentially a political nightmare for Republicans, and Democrats can sit back and watch them try to squirm their way out of it, just like they have every single time Boehner has unsuccessfully used this strategy to try and force President Obama to back down. Boehner’s thinks he will convince people that the Senate Democrats are to blame, but the only one who’s buying that story is John Boehner. Of course, if the DHS is shut down and there is a terrorist attack, there will be plenty of blame to fling around. Democratic Party members of the house such as Dan Kildee are calling on Speaker Boehner to send a clean bill to the House floor.
So to summarize, Republicans don’t like President Obama’s plans for immigration. Boehner thinks defunding DHS and 22 other agencies providing essential security services under it’s umbrella will force Senate Democrats to vote in favor of Boehner’s dirty DHS funding bill. The Republicans have already set this idiotic ball into motion and the Democrats are giving them enough rope.