Congress-Passed Spending Bill Leaves DHS in Limbo

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Following the close vote in the House last week, the Senate passed a spending bill 56-40 on Saturday to fund most of the government for the next year and avoid a government shutdown. Excluded from that full-year deal is the Department of Homeland Security, which is only funded until February 27 under the so-called “cromnibus” bill.

The spending measure received the name “cromnibus” because, as Vox explains, it is a “mash-up of an omnibus bill, which is how Congress funds the government when things are working normally, and a continuing resolution (CR), which is how Congress funds the government when it can’t come to a deal.” DHS is the only government department funded by a continuing resolution. Many congressional Republicans did not want to fund DHS for an entire year so that they could attempt to halt President Obama’s executive action on immigration later. “Republicans in Congress are betting that once they have control of Congress in 2015, they can defund President Obama’s immigration measure,” writes Forbes’ Kelly Phillips.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson warned against a separate continuing resolution for Homeland Security. “That is in my judgment a very bad idea for Homeland Security because during that period of a CR we cannot engage in new starts,” Johnson said during a congressional hearing on the president’s immigration executive actions. “We’ve got some homeland security priorities that need to be funded now.” He added that DHS could not hire new Secret Service agents without a new appropriations bill and that a short-term bill could not fund “enhanced” immigration enforcement operations like the new immigration detention center in Dilley, Texas.

But even the short-term deal to fund DHS into 2015 did not pacify some Republicans. After a GOP conference meeting about the funding deal, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) claimed House leaders “surrendered to President Obama on the illegal alien issue, and have supported and decided to fund amnesty.” The cromnibus narrowly passed the House on Thursday. In the Senate on Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) raised a constitutional point of order against the cromnibus before the Senate voted to approve the measure. Cruz called the vote on his point of order as a vote to defund executive amnesty because the bill funds DHS. His point of order lost 22-74 before the Senate went on to approve the cromnibus.

While Congress reached a deal to fund the federal government without a shutdown, it has left DHS in a precarious situation with only a few months of funding as GOP hardliners wait until, as Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) put it, “the cavalry arrives” and Republicans hold a majority in both chambers. In the quest of a few to stop President Obama’s constitutional use of his authority to temporarily defer deportations for millions of immigrants, Republicans are also endangering funding for homeland security measures.

Photo Courtesy of Public Affairs.

This post originally appeared on Immigration Impact. Reprinted with permission


About The Author

Amanda Peterson Beadle Amanda Peterson Beadle is a Reporter/Blogger at ThinkProgress.org. She received her B.A. in journalism and Spanish from the University of Alabama, where she was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper The Crimson White and graduated with honors. Before joining ThinkProgress, she worked as a legislative aide in the Maryland House of Delegates. In college, she interned at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, the Press-Register (Mobile, Alabama), and the Ludington Daily News. She is from Birmingham, Alabama.


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