WASHINGTON — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) says that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) components that keep Americans safe will continue to function despite any GOP-proposed budget changes.
“Even in the last government shut down, only 13.6% of DHS employees were furloughed,” Johnson said, BuzzFeed News reported. “So the national security aspects, the aspects of the department that keeps America safe, are continuing to function no matter what happens in this very dysfunctional place.”
Congress passed a budget last year that funds DHS under a temporary “Continuing Resolution” (CR) mechanism that expires on February 27. Last week, the House approved a DHS budget that removes funding for Obama’s executive amnesty proposals. President Obama vowed to veto the House bill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has argued that cutting DHS funding interferes with lawmakers’ “oath to protect and defend the American people.”
Nevertheless, echoing Chairman Johnson, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) found that even under a government shutdown, most of DHS would continue to function uninterrupted because that majority of its employees are either considered essential or are not paid with funds appropriated by Congress.
“While an estimated 31,295 employees were furloughed, roughly 85% of the department’s workforce continued with their duties [during the October 2013 shutdown], due to exceptions identified in current interpretations of law,” reported CRS.
“In the event of a lapse in annual appropriations, some activities continue if they directly relate to preserving the safety of human life or the protection of property,” it added.
DHS employees considered essential include those charged with border security, immigration enforcement, maritime security, and transportation security, among other functions considered necessary to preserving the safety of the American people.
Despite the information highlighted by CRS, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson recently told MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” that DHS “can’t do a lot of things for border security” and its “counterterrorism efforts are limited” because it was only funded through the end of February.