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American Shipper

DHS gets one-week reprieve in funding fight

Congress passed a 7-day extension to keep the department running while negotiations over immigration dispute continue.

   The Department of Homeland Security averted a partial shutdown when the House voted for a one-week funding extension and President Obama signed it before the midnight deadline on Friday.
   The last-minute development capped a week of political maneuvering centered around efforts by hardline Republicans in the House to block President Obama’s executive order in November to scale back deportations of undocumented workers without criminal histories. Opponents claim the White House action is unconstitutional and are trying to use the appropriations process as leverage to get their way, while other Republicans worry the public will blame their party for another government shutdown that demonstrates Washington’s dysfunction.
   An omnibus bill enacted late last year funded the rest of government through September, but Congress only funded DHS through the end of February because of the immigration divide. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials last week outlined what functions would be cut back or eliminated if funding ran out.
   It appeared late Friday afternoon that DHS would have to furlough about 30,000 administrative personnel and that “mission-critical” personnel such as airport screeners and Secret Service officers would have to work without pay for the time being after House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, was unable to push a three-week stop-gap funding bill through. Democrats organized to defeat the three-week extension because of the impact a continuing resolution has on DHS operations.
   The Senate had previously decoupled funding DHS for the remainder of the fiscal year and the immigration issue, but a strong group of House Republicans refused to go along with a “clean” bill.
   House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi then proposed the one-week extension, but did not explain why Democrats who were opposed to a three-week extension agreed to a one-week continuing resolution. 
   The DHS funding debate will resume again this week. A blow-by-blow account of the DHS funding battle can be found in The Hill newspaper.