House approves DHS funding

Vote ended a two-month skirmish over Obama immigration policy and spared agencies like CBP from cutbacks.

Excerpt from American Shipper  | By: Eric Kulisch |  March 4, 2015

The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, ending a political drama over President Obama’s immigration policies that threatened to partially shut down the department and hamstring remaining functions.

The vote to appropriate $40 billion was successful because of the unanimous support of Democrats, although House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, had difficulty getting hardline members of his party to go along with a “clean” bill, according to news reports about DHS funding from Politico and other outlets on Capitol Hill. Only 75 Republicans supported the bill, while 167 voted against it.

Opponents were trying to use the appropriation process to defund executive actions announced by President Obama to scale back deportations of undocumented workers. Congress late last year only provided temporary funding through the end of February because Republicans knew they would control both chambers of Congress and felt they could force the issue. But Republicans in the Senate didn’t have the 60 votes required to override a filibuster and couldn’t pass a bill that included the immigration amendments.

A bloc of Senate Republicans argued that the Republican Party needed to show it can govern rather than take ideological stands that would demonstrate government mismanagement of a key agency and upset voters. At the 11th hour Friday, Congress passed a one-week funding extension to forestall a DHS shutdown, which would have required some 30,000 furloughs of administrative workers and front-line personnel to work without paychecks until an appropriation bill was enacted.

Obama’s action was technically unaffected by any withholding of tax dollars because immigration processing is funded by user fees.

The vote means agencies such as Customs and Border Protection won’t have to eliminate important functions that aren’t directly related to security. The Senate had already passed a “clean” funding bill, so the legislation now goes to President Obama’s desk to be signed.