WASHINGTON — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement Tuesday night saying that any “politically charged amendments” in the DHS funding bill “that attempt to defund our executive actions on immigration reform” would result in consequences.
Johnson warns that if DHS were to be funded by a short-term funding bill known as a “continuing resolution,” the department would not be able to fund “new non-disaster grants to state, local and tribal governments, law enforcement, emergency response officials and fire departments.”
Secretary Johnson said that some state, local and tribal government activities, including counter-terrorism equipment and gear in major metropolitan cities, would be cut the department runs on a short-term funding bill.
During his visit to Capitol Hill Tuesday he told reporters, “We’re in trying times right now, and we need a clean appropriations bill for Homeland Security.”
“I’m here to talk to any senators on both sides of the aisle who are willing to listen to me and engage in a discussion about getting what we need for the budget for Homeland Security for this nation,” he continued.
According to Sheriff Justin Smith of Larimer County, Colorado, his office received a letter about the funding bill from Sec. Johnson that Smith considered to be a “veiled threat.” Smith says that the letter was “addressed to all police chiefs and sheriffs around the country.”
Smith wrote on his Facebook page, “His letter made it clear that if Congress didn’t send President Obama the DHS funding bill that he wanted (rubberstamping the president’s executive amnesty), local and state public safety agencies would not receive federal grants they were counting on because the president would veto the DHS funding bill.”
“Let me get this straight – the president believes he has the authority to nullify federal laws that don’t serve his personal agenda, but if Congress dares to exercise it’s responsibility of controlling the purse strings, he will willingly hold public safety grants hostage just to get his way?”
“Mr. President, you don’t have to love the Congress we elected, but you do have to respect their role as established under the Constitution -and Mr. Johnson, please show some integrity and stop with the threats. Sheriffs don’t take kindly to them.”
Senate Democrats, now in the minority, filibustered the Department of Homeland Security funding bill with all 46 of their members, reiterating the administration’s position that they will not accept anything less than a bill with no limits on President Obama’s executive amnesty.
“We all know this is going to end with a bill funding Homeland Security that goes to the president. They’ll wind up passing a clean bill,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. “Why do we wait? Why do we agonize?”
“This funding bill for Homeland Security should not be held hostage for immigration,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, “We’re being straight up.”
Conservative senators approved DHS funding only through the end of February in budget negotiations at the end of 2014, as a strategy to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. With a larger majority in the lower chamber by January, House Republicans slipped in amendments to defund the president’s new immigration measures. The deadline to pass a funding bill is Feb. 27.
The GOP proposed amendments to ban any fee or fines that would be collected from immigrants intended to pay for Obama’s executive immigration order, and to halt funding for the president’s 2012 executive order, known as DACA, which allowed more than half a million young illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to stay in the country legally.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told reporters Obama’s executive order is one step too far. “The 2014 order is not even a close call,” she said. “It is so broad in its reach that the president himself said, more than 20 times, that he didn’t have the authority to take the kind of action that is included in the 2014 order.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been criticized by conservatives over his stance on the 2013 Senate immigration bill, said he welcomed the debate brought forth through the DHS appropriations bill.
“I think DACA has to end at some point in the future. I would not take it away from the people that have it now because while I don’t support it I think it would be incredibly disruptive. I do believe that program has to come to an end. It can’t be the permanent policy of the United States,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“I think the primary objection to [the president’s executive order] was that its both an unconstitutional application of the president’s authority and beyond that I think it makes it very difficult to achieve the sort of immigration reform many in the immigration activist community want to see,” he explained. “Even if you’re fully in favor of this, which I’m not, this is a short term measure, that will expire at the end of his presidency and if a future president doesn’t agree with it’s going to go away.”