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Homeland Security Shutdown Imminent After House Fails To Pass Stop-Gap Funding Bill

As we warned was entirely possible, with just hours to go until The Department of Homeland Security runs out of money at midnight:

  • *HOUSE FAILS TO PASS STOPGAP FUNDING FOR U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY

While more votes are expected tonight (and this weekend), as The Guardian reports, a handful of Republicans defied Boehner's leadership and joined with Democrats to defeat the bill.

  • *MCCARTHY SAYS HOUSE COULD HAVE MORE VOTES TODAY, THIS WEEKEND

As The Guardian reports,

John Boehner’s first attempt to keep the Department of Homeland Security from running out of money at midnight failed in the House of Representatives after dozens of Republicans baulked at his plan to fund it for just three more weeks.

 

The House speaker had been hoping to prevent a shutdown by buying time to negotiate with conservatives in his caucus over their demands that the bill include a measure to prevent Barack Obama from deferring deportation of undocumented immigrants.

 

But even this three-week stop gap was rejected by 30-odd Republican congressman who defied their party leadership and joined with Democrats to voted against the bill by 224 to 203 just after 5pm. The department runs out of funds at midnight.

 

Democrats resisted Boehner’s proposal in the hope of forcing House Republicans to follow their colleagues in the Senate and agree a one-year funding bill.

 

But the impasse now sets up a dangerous game of chicken between the parties as each tries to see who will blink first before current funding for the department expires at midnight.

*  *  *

What happens if we go into the weekend without a DHS deal?  In the event of a shutdown, the vast majority of DHS employees would stay on the job. DHS Secretary Johnson said earlier this week that about 30,000 of DHS's approximately 240,000 employees would be furloughed. The rest would be considered exempt and most would have to work without pay.

For everyone else, a brief shutdown won't have an impact. Should the shutdown drag on, this is how DHS official describe the "state-less" hell that would be unleashed:

FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY

  • If a major snowstorm or earthquake or even terrorist attack hits a city or state, DHS won’t be able to send the state federal funds for recovery.
  • State and local authorities rely on federal grants to afford many of their first responders, but new grant requests won’t be processed – potentially forcing cities and towns across the country to cut back on police, fire and ambulance services.
  • Each month, FEMA trains thousands of state and local emergency personnel how to handle “very specialized” cases such as those involving Ebola, anthrax or sarin gas, but that training will stop.

CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (INC. BORDER PATROL & CUSTOMS OFFICERS)

  • 500 recruits currently in training in Georgia will be sent home, wasting significant amounts of taxpayer money already invested in them and possibly losing them as recruits.
  • CBP won’t be able to replace or upgrade aging surveillance systems along the Southwest border
  • Certain criminal cases against those trying to cross the border illegally or smuggle prohibited items into the United States will slow or stop, especially after lawyers at CBP are sent home.

SECRET SERVICE

  • The Secret Service won’t be able to make certain security upgrades at the White House in the wake of several recent breaches there.
  • The 2016 presidential candidates could be put at risk because the Secret Service won’t be able to pay “for the things we need” to protect them.

IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

  • ICE will miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars intended to address “unaccompanied minors” and families still crossing the Southwest border illegally.

TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

  • “Nothing to report here,” though training and other “non-essential administrative functions would cease.”

*  *  *

As SMRA notes, If a shutdown occurs, we think it would be brief. The political repercussions of shutting the DHS could be negative, especially given recent events including threats to U.S. shopping malls and today's arrest in Brooklyn of three individuals charged with aiding the Islamic State.

In the event of a shutdown, the vast majority of DHS employees would stay on the job. DHS Secretary Johnson said earlier this week that about 30,000 of DHS's approximately 240,000 employees would be furloughed. The rest would be considered exempt and most would have to work without pay.

DHS hasn't published a detailed breakdown of employees that would be furloughed or exempt like it did in advance of the 2013 government shutdown. But the estimates published then serve as a useful proxy for what would happen in the event of a shutdown after Friday. The following table summarizes employees at the agencies within DHS that accounted for the great majority of employees in advance of the 2013 shutdown, and shows the number expected to be furloughed and the number expected to be exempt at that time.

As the table shows, USCIS accounted for 5.7% of employees in 2013, but just 1.1% of furloughs. As we noted above, USCIS doesn't rely on the annual appropriations process. Presumably its exempt workers would get paid, but we're not entirely clear on that. In the event of a shutdown, the operations of USCIS would for the most part continue. However, that may be a moot point for the President's immigration policies unless a higher court reverses the stay imposed by the court in Texas.