DHS Funding: A Game of Chicken

Unless Congress acts, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is due to run out of funding in about nine days (February 28).

If DHS isn’t funded, it won’t be the end of the world. There will still be people at the airport to screen passengers and at the border to welcome folks to the good ol’ USA. These people may not be smiling much, because according to several reports those folks are “essential personnel” and they get to stay on the job, but would not receive paychecks.

According to the Washington Post’s editorial board, here is the root of the problem:

The (DHS funding) bill passed by House Republicans would defund Mr. Obama’s executive order to shield several million illegal immigrants from deportation. In the kabuki theater of Congress, the bill has followed a predictable course. It has been taken up three times in the Senate, where it lacks the 60 votes needed to clear procedural hurdles, and three times it has been filibustered by Democrats, just as Mr. Boehner and every other member of Congress knew it would be.

Late Monday another issue came up thanks to a Federal judge:

President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration have been halted temporarily, thanks to a preliminary injunction issued late Monday by a federal district court judge in Texas.

The injunction does not seem to bother the Democrats, probably because they know it won’t last too long.

So, the U.S. House passed a bill, but the U.S. Senate can’t muster the 60 votes needed to pass it because the Democrats won’t go along with the House version to defund the President’s immigration policies. With all that in mind, who will get the blame if DHS shuts down?

According to a CNN/ORC poll, it will be the Republicans fault:

The survey finds 53% of Americans would blame the Republicans in Congress if the department must shut down, while 30% would blame President Barack Obama. Another 13% say both deserve the blame.

That poll must be devastating to the Republicans. They’ve just regained control of the Senate and have controlled the House for several terms. It was their turn to run Congress and after just a little more than a month of being in control, it’s not looking good.

On the other hand, the Democrats must feel like they have an issue that they can win with.

I happened to catch House Speaker John Boehner on Fox News Sunday, and he did not do well. He kept saying different versions of “The House has acted. We’ve done our job.”

The way it is supposed to work is that the House would pass a bill and the Senate would pass a bill dealing with the same issue. If there are differences in the bills, a conference committee would be formed with members from each chamber to work out the differences in the two bills.

As for the DHS funding bill, the House Republicans have determined that their bill is it – kind of like an-all-or-nothing approach.

Historically, the Republicans have not been very good at this game of chicken.


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