The U.S. Senate voted down legislation this past week (51-48) that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for another year. The bill was passed by the House last month and includes language that effectively reverses President Obama’s ‘executive action’ of deferring the deportation of many illegal immigrants. While pressure naturally mounts to get the funding bill passed, because, according to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), “(t)here are ghoulish, grim predators out there who would love to kill us or do us harm”, some conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill aren’t buying the hype. The reality is that 200,000 of the 230,000 DHS employees would remain on the job if Congress fails to re-up their funding by the February 27th deadline. Federal law prohibits workers whose jobs are vital to U.S. national security from being temporarily laid off because of a lack of funding. Instead, these direly essential employees will go unpaid, starting on the 28th, until Congress can agree on a workable framework for legislative compromise.
Sen. Mikulski kept up the dramatic rhetoric though, threatening that, “(i)f this goes to shutdown, this could close down ports up and down the East Coast, because if you don’t have a Coast Guard, you don’t have the ports.” Fortunately, the Senator from Maryland is wrong, and so are her Republican colleagues in light of their objective of stopping Obama’s executive amnesty actions: letting DHS funding expire wouldn’t close U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services either, because their employees salaries are fee-based.
So the politics of fear are in full swing up on that shining hill of ours in Washington D.C.; almost enough to make one think election day is right around the corner. Maybe there isn’t an end to campaign season anymore.