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US Congress Faces Deadline on Domestic Security Funding

  • Michael Bowman

After a weeklong recess, the U.S. Congress gets back to work facing a deadline: funding for domestic security operations expires at the end of the month. A Republican attempt to block President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration has been a sticking point in authorizing new spending for the Department of Homeland Security.

Another day and another terrorist threat: this one from Africa-based al-Shabaab, responsible for a deadly 2013 attack on a shopping mall in Kenya, and now claiming to have Minnesota’s Mall of America in its sights.

The threat highlights the need to keep domestic security operations funded, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

“It is imperative that we have a budget for the Department of Homeland Security, which is due to expire at the end of the week,” said Johnson.

For weeks, Democrats have blocked Senate consideration of a House-passed DHS bill that would block President Obama’s executive order shielding millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. Democrats, and some Senate Republicans, are calling for a “clean” funding bill with no strings (stipulations) attached.

That is a non-starter, according to House Speaker John Boehner.

“The House has done its job. We have passed a bill that funds the department and stops the president’s unilateral actions with regard to immigration," said Boehner. "It is up to Senate Democrats to do their job.”

But the firestorm over immigration could be tempered by last week’s action by a federal court to put the president’s executive action on hold.

“I am willing and ready to pass a DHS funding bill and let this (immigration battle) play out in court," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. "The worst possible outcome for this nation is to defund the Department of Homeland Security given the multiple threats we face to our homeland.”

Graham said Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, will be blamed if funding lapses and the United States suffers an attack.