Tags: House | homeland | shutdown | Congress

House Republicans Mull Stopgap Funds to Avoid Homeland Shutdown

Thursday, 26 February 2015 04:23 PM

House Republicans will consider a stopgap funding bill during a closed-door conference Thursday to avoid a shutdown of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the House Appropriations Committee chairman said.

Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky said such a measure would be in the "neighborhood" of a few weeks.

The agency's funding is set to expire in two days. House Republicans have been insisting that any longer-term spending bill must include language blocking President Barack Obama's orders shielding 5 million illegal immigrants from deportations. Democrats oppose any move to link Homeland Security funding with immigration policy.

The Senate is moving forward with a bill that would finance the agency without addressing Obama's immigration orders.

House Speaker John Boehner must decide whether to stick with a group of 30 or 40 conservatives who have been pushing him to hold up the Homeland Security funds over immigration.

A decision to put off a final deal would put the matter close to other anticipated legislative battles. Legislation canceling planned cuts to doctors' Medicare reimbursement rates expires on April 1. The nation's debt ceiling will be back in place on March 15, it may not likely have to be addressed until mid-year.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, outside the House chamber on Thursday, criticized the idea of a short-term bill that would retain last year's spending level.

"We need a fully funded department of Homeland Security in these challenging times," he said, "a full-year appropriations bill to fund all of our key missions."

Earlier Thursday, Boehner refused to discuss the House's next moves.

"We're waiting to see what the Senate can or cannot do and then we'll make decisions about how we're going to proceed," said Boehner at a news conference.

When pressed by reporters on whether the House would vote on the Senate's funding plan, Boehner paused, puckered up and blew several kisses.

Boehner insisted that Republicans aren't divided over how to proceed.

"It's not a fight amongst Republicans," he said, because party members in both chambers agree they want to block Obama's immigration orders.

Boehner said: "It's outrageous that Senate Democrats are using Homeland Security funding for blackmail to protect the actions of the president."

Senate and House Democrat leaders said they won't negotiate on a spending measure that also blocks U.S. immigration policies.

"If they send over a bill with all the riders in it, they've shut down" the Homeland Security Department, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said at a news conference in Washington. "If they want to debate immigration when this is all over with, we'll be happy to do it."

"Understand, shutting down government is their motive," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who spoke to reporters with Reid.

Boehner of Ohio has been under pressure from tea party- backed Republicans to use the Homeland Security bill as leverage after he promised a battle over immigration this year to his rank and file.

One member of Boehner's Republican caucus who disagrees is Rep. Peter King of New York, a member of the Homeland Security Committee.

"If Boehner's going to get it done he ought to bite the bullet and get it done now," King said. "What you're talking about is a small group of people who want to hold the party hostage."

"We have to cut them off now because they'll keep doing this," King said.

Johnson, at a news conference, said the fact that Homeland Security is already operating on last year's spending level is preventing the issuance of grants to local emergency first- responders to buy equipment and finance training.

A partial shutdown would require him to put thousands of staff on furlough and order others to keep working without pay.

"The failure to fund the Department of Homeland Security has real impacts on public safety and on the jobs of those you see here on this stage," he said at a news conference where he was joined by more than a dozen police and fire officials, some in uniform. "There are just 34 hours left. Time is running out."

The risk of a partial Homeland Security shutdown comes less than two months after Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has insisted there will be "no government shutdowns."

Lawmakers also risk embarrassment if the Homeland Security Department is shut down on March 3 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address a joint meeting of Congress on security issues.

The Homeland Security Department includes the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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House Republicans will consider a stopgap funding bill during a closed-door conference Thursday to avoid a shutdown of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the House Appropriations Committee chairman said.Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky said such a...
House, homeland, shutdown, Congress
Thursday, 26 February 2015 04:23 PM
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