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GOP Senators Should Stop Putting Politics Before National Security

Bipartisan Secretaries of Homeland Security Caution Against Shutdown; GOP Senators Won’t Listen

Despite the fact that Homeland Security secretaries of both parties have called for passage of a clean appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Senate Republicans have so far refused to listen, choosing instead to play partisan politics with the agency that works to protect our borders. Just last week, Ron Johnson (R-WI) Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committeesuggested that a DHS shutdown wouldn’t affect national security. That shocking sentiment has been fully rebuffed by both the current Secretary of Homeland Security, and three previous secretaries including two Republicans.

Current Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently explained why a DHS shutdown is harmful to our nation’s security:

“…we cannot engage in new starts, new spending, new initiatives, new grants to state and local law enforcement to fund homeland security missions…We can’t do a lot of things for border security. Our counterterrorism efforts are limited.”

“At a time when our nation and our allies face unprecedented threats, Republican Senators need to stop playing games and pass a clean bill to keep DHS funded and our nation protected,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “By catering to the most fringe elements of their party and once again cheerleading a shutdown, Republican Senators are proving that they value politics more than the safety of our country. They should listen to experts from their own party and pass a clean bill to fund DHS and avoid a shutdown of the agency tasked with protecting our borders.”

 

BACKGROUND

A Bipartisan Group Of Former DHS Secretaries Called For Passage Of A Clean DHS Appropriations Bill To Avoid Risking Funding For Operations That Protect The American People. In a letter from former Department of Homeland Security Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff. Who served under President George W. Bush, and Janet Napolitano, who served on President Obama, wrote: “As former U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security, we write to you today to respectfully request that you consider decoupling critical legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 from a legislative response to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. As recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the cyber-attacks on a major American corporation and on the U.S. Military’s Central Command remind u, the threats facing the U.S. are very real. The national security role that DHS plays, and by extension the funding that allows it to carry out its vital national security missions, is critical to ensuring that our nation is safe from harm. […] It is imperative that we ensure that DHS is read, willing, and able to protect the American people. To that end, we urge you not to risk funding for the operations that protect every American and to pass a clean DHS funding bill.” [Letter to Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Reid, 1/29/15]

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Explained That The Agency’s Current Budget Situation And A Potential DHS Shutdown Limit The Agency’s Ability To Perform Its Counterterrorism, Border Security And Other Critical Functions. “Right now, the Department of Homeland Security is operating on a continuing resolution, which means that we are allowed to spend money until February 27th – at the same rate we spent money last year. That means that as long as we are on a C.R., we cannot engage in new starts, new spending, new initiatives, new grants to state and local law enforcement to fund homeland security missions. We can’t put in place the independent panel that recommended changes to the secret service has suggested we do. We can’t do a lot of things for border security. Our counterterrorism efforts are limited. And my concern is that we not play political volleyball with our budget. We need an appropriation that is stood up on February 27th so we can go forward with a full year’s appropriations so we can fund these very vital things to homeland security.” [MSNBC, 1/20/15]

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