DHS Sec. Johnson Presses Congress To Fund DHS, Executive Amnesty

Secretary of Homeland Security testifies on immigration before House committee

Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson again called on Congress to pass a DHS appropriations bill that is free of provisions that would block Obama’s executive amnesty.

“I continue to stress the need for a DHS appropriations bill for FY 2015, unburdened by politically charged amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions on immigration reform,” Johnson said on Tuesday. “The President has made plain that he will veto a bill that includes such language.”

Last month the House passed a DHS funding bill that blocks Obama’s executive actions on immigration, including those going back to 2012. The effort has stalled in the Senate as Democrats — including those who have expressed opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty — have prevented the bill from coming to the floor.

Funding for DHS expires on February 27 and a path forward remains hazy. Johnson warned Tuesday, however, against allowing funding to expire or even passing another measure to continue funding the department in the short term as lawmakers continur to consider the larger appropriations bill.

“As long as this Department is funded by a continuing resolution, there are a whole series of activities vital to homeland security and public safety that cannot be undertaken.” Johnson said. “The public must be aware of the real impacts to homeland security as long as DHS is funded by a continuing resolution, or, still worse, if Congress were to permit our funding to lapse altogether and the Department of Homeland Security goes into government shutdown.”

Despite Johnson joining with Democrats in his call for a clean bill — or one without the provisions blocking executive amnesty — GOP lawmakers are pointing the finger at Democrats.

“Republicans have repeatedly signaled that they will give Democrats every opportunity to amend and change the bill if there are parts they do not like,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said Tuesday. “But we are now in a hostage situation because they don’t even have six members of their caucus willing to even begin debate on the funding bill.  That is shameful.  Let’s put an end to the obstruction.”

Johnson on Tuesday highlighted homeland security issues that Republicans seeking to block executive amnesty have voiced concerns about, such as border security.

“Border security is not free,” he said. “The men and women of DHS need a partner in Congress to fund their efforts. Time is running out. I urge Congress to act responsibly and pass a clean appropriations bill for this Department.”

Monday, the Hill reported that Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD) said the idea of a continuing resolution remains on the table, but put the ball in the House’ court.

“That’s always, as you know, a possibility around here, but I think it’s going to come down to if the House figures out what they can move, because clearly we don’t have a bill over here,” The Hill quoted Thune. “Appropriations bills originate in the House and it’s been demonstrated now that we’re not going to get the votes that are necessary to move it through the Senate.”

House Speaker John Boehner last week, meanwhile, stressed that Republicans have won their fight in the House and the ball is now in the Senate’s court.