Battle over DHS funding: what's at issue, where things stand

Funding for DHS is scheduled to run out later this month. That deadline was set as part of an effort by Republicans to stand up to President Obama's use of executive action to ease US policies toward illegal immigrants.

Molly Riley/AP
Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas (r.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, to discuss the Department of Homeland Security funding bill. From left are Sen. Mike Lee (R) of Utah, Rep. Chris Stewart (R) of Utah, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama, Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R) of Alabama and Cruz.

It was designed by Republicans as an opportunity to stand up forcefully to President Obama’s use of executive action to ease US policies toward illegal immigrants. But for now at least, a deadline over funding for the Department of Homeland Security doesn't appear to be going as the GOP might have hoped.

What’s the issue?

Funding for DHS is scheduled to run out later this month. That's because last year, as Congress patched together a budget compromise to fund most of the federal government through September, this agency – which includes the US border patrol – was excluded from the deal.

With that move, the goal was to allow a Congress newly under full Republican control to consider how to challenge Mr. Obama on grounds of both executive overreach and abdication of the president’s duty to enforce immigration laws.

However, three times this month in the Senate, Democrats have been able to block the Republican majority from considering the DHS appropriations bill that the House passed.

That essentially means that the House and Senate don’t have a common-ground position from which to go after Obama’s policy, which is designed to temporarily remove the fear of deportation for several million immigrants.

The difficulty was encapsulated in a TV interview Sunday, in which House Speaker John Boehner touted the House-passed bill, which would fund DHS but exclude any money to implement Obama’s executive action.

“The House has acted to fund the department and to stop the president's overreach when it comes to immigration and his executive orders,” Speaker Boehner said on Fox News. “It's time for the Senate to act.”

But interviewer Chris Wallace responded that Senate Republicans lack a filibuster-proof majority, and he quoted Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell:

“It's clear we can't go forward in the Senate,” Senator McConnell said last week. “The next move obviously is up to the House.”

Boehner, on Sunday, disagreed: “If the Senate doesn't like [the House bill], they'll have to produce something that fits their institution.”

It remains to be seen what the Senate will be able to pass. And so suddenly, it looks possible that DHS will face a so-called shutdown for lack of funds.

The department wouldn’t really be shut down. Federal operations that are deemed “essential” – and that would include much of the US border patrol – would continue.

But some operations would indeed grind to a halt – and the debate may then shift, partly, to the question of who’s to blame. Past history with such scenarios suggests that Congress would be blamed more than the president.

Republican efforts to tag Obama or Senate Democrats with responsibility could be difficult if party members look as if they can’t agree among themselves about what to do.

In recent days, the tea party wing of the party has stood in defiance of what some call Obama’s “illegal executive amnesty.” Moderates in the party, meanwhile, have called for compromise in place of a politically damaging standoff.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois says Republicans, having won control of the Senate in last fall’s election, need to show they can get things done – not just take symbolic votes against a Democratic president.

"It’s not livable. It’s not acceptable," Senator Kirk said of a potential shutdown, according to comments quoted by The Hill. "When you’re in the majority, you have to govern. You have to govern responsibly. And shutdowns are not responsible."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Battle over DHS funding: what's at issue, where things stand
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today