Homeland Security Shutdown Looms as Lawmakers Spar Over Funding

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to expire on Feb. 27 if government officials cannot reach a consensus.

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration will hold a three-day summit next week on international and domestic efforts to combat violent extremism in an effort to end a standoff with Congress over funding the Department of Homeland Security.

GOP leaders set up the standoff over Homeland Security funding in December to pressure the Obama Administration to change its domestic immigration plan to offer millions of illegal immigrants a haven from deportation and a chance to apply for work permits.

Congressional Republicans extended DHS’ funding only through February, while funding the rest of the government through September, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The funding deadline is Feb. 27; however, because Congress is currently out for a 10-day recess, lawmakers only have a handful of working days to resolve the funding impasse.

If a DHS shutdown does occur, many of the core functions of the department, which guards the nation’s borders and enforces immigration law, would not be affected. However, thousands of employees categorized as nonessential would be furloughed. The 200,000 essential employees, which include border-patrol agents, customs officials and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners, would not get paid until the issue is resolved.

During the Summit, President Barack Obama will deliver remarks on counterterrorism initiatives, while Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other agency officials are also expected to press the case.

Johnson is working hard to convince Republicans to change their minds, with the department stating that he has already visited with at least 20 lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss the funding issue, The Hill reports.

However, the Republicans are showing no sign of reneging. On Feb. 13, 170 House Republicans urged Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to drop the Democratic filibuster.

Additionally, other conservatives have stated that they are not worried about a DHS shutdown. Rather, they believe it is important to make a stand against Obama’s immigration plans, which they deem as unconstitutional.

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