Congress Must Act Soon on Homeland Security Funding

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Nearly five months after Fiscal 2015 began and with a stop-gap measure expiring this Friday, the House and Senate remain in an embarrassing tug-of-war over Homeland Security spending.

Last month the House approved a $39.7 billion current-year funding bill but included measures that would reverse some of President Obama’s immigration policies. Democrats have blocked that bill in the Senate, where a fourth attempt to move the legislation forward failed on Monday amid rising concerns about the possibility of a partial Homeland Security shut-down.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then indicated some immigration provisions could be moved to a separate bill in an effort to get the Senate “unstuck.”

The impasse is an unfortunate left-over from the previous Congress, which failed to pass any regular 2015 spending bills before the fiscal year began Oct. 1. In December lawmakers finally agreed on regular funding for everything but Homeland Security, which was left with only stop-gap funding.

Some Republicans are arguing for a “clean” bill on Homeland Security while relying on a court case to be the vehicle for opposing the President’s executive actions on immigration. Last week a federal judge in that case issued a temporary injunction against some of the President’s policies. The Justice Department is appealing.

Regardless of that case, however, further delays on current-year Homeland Security spending would be unfortunate. Lawmakers need to work out a compromise quickly as they begin extensive hearings this week on the President’s 2016 budget proposals.

External links:
Majority Leader McConnell’s Statement on Alternative Immigration Legislation
Republicans Split on DHS Funding, Edging Closer to a Partial Agency Shutdown (Washington Post)
What to Expect if Homeland Security Shuts Down Next Week (Washington Post)
Senate Democrats Show Limits of GOP Spending Strategy (Roll Call)

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