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H.R. 240, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2015


Homeland Security

Late last year the House passed legislation funding the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year. The Department of Homeland Security however, was funded only through February 27th in order to give the new Congress an opportunity to take action on the Presidentís Executive Orders on immigration. The House addressed this by advancing legislation to fund DHS through September 30th but prohibiting action to implement the Executive Orders. The Senate rejected this approach, voting simply to fund DHS through the end of the federal fiscal year. Republican House leadership has thus far refused to consider the Senate bill, even though it would pass overwhelmingly.

House Republican leaders instead brought to the floor a short-term continuing resolution lasting through March 19th because the current funding agreement for DHS was set to expire on February 27th. That extension was rejected and the House adjourned for hours while Republican leaders tried to figure out how to keep DHS funded. Ultimately, a one week extension was brought to the floor and it passed overwhelmingly. You will see in the vote chart below that a fairly large percentage of Republicans refused to support even this modest extension. I voted YES and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Some Thoughts on the Homeland Security Vote

Last weekís difficulties funding the crucial work of DHS is emblematic of the larger struggles facing the House. The stated reason for holding up funding is to prevent money from being spent implementing the Presidentís Executive Orders on Immigration. I understand and it does not surprise me that many members on the other side of the aisle strongly oppose the Presidentís actions. In fact, I would welcome a substantive debate on how the country should address immigration reform. However, last weekís debate, in my opinion, wasnít really about immigration. If it was, why isnít the House considering separate immigration legislation?

Instead, this vote highlights the deep divide that exists amongst House Republicans ó their conservatives and extremists. Too many extremists are willing to bring government to a halt if they donít get precisely the legislation that they want. But thatís not even the biggest problem ó the biggest problem is that the 180 or so Republicans allow the 50 or so extremists within their own party to control the agenda. They allow this even though a compromise with Democrats is possible, as in the Senate on this very issue. This is happening regularly and prevents any real effort toward compromise on any issue. I am not sure what will change this week but I hope that by Friday DHS is fully funded through the end of the fiscal year.

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