Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson is not impressed with House Republicans using the agency as a political hostage with their amendments to the funding bill for the agency. Not only is he urging President Obama to veto the GOP bill due to the amendments, but he forcefully condemned the Republican attempts to turn the agency into a “political volleyball.”
The statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson:
Yesterday the House passed H.R. 240, a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. As introduced by Chairman Rogers, H.R. 240 was a good bill. It provided $39.7 billion in appropriations for the Department, and funded key homeland security priorities and initiatives. Regrettably, the bill was then amended on the House floor to include politically-charged language to defund our executive actions to fix the broken immigration system. The amended bill passed the House by a narrow margin; some Republicans did not even vote for it, and we have made plain that if the bill in this form comes to the President’s desk, his staff and I will recommend that he veto it.
Recent world events — the terrorist attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Sydney, and elsewhere, along with the public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on Western objectives — call for increased vigilance in homeland security.
In these times, the budget of the Department of Homeland Security cannot become a political volleyball.
At present, the Department is operating on a continuing resolution due to expire on February 27. As long as this Department continues to operate on a CR, we are prevented from funding key homeland security initiatives. These include, for example, funding for new grants to state and local law enforcement, additional border security resources, and additional Secret Service resources to implement the changes recommended by the independent panel. Other core missions, such as aviation security and protection of federal installations and personnel, are also hampered.
I respectfully urge Congress to pass an appropriations bill for DHS as soon as possible, free of politically-charged amendments to defund our executive actions.
Johnson reiterated concerns raised repeatedly by the saner, namely that this is no time to mess with the agency tasked with homeland security, cyber crimes, border control and protecting the President. As I noted yesterday after participating in a call for reporters with the White House, the Secret Service can’t move forward with the recommendations for added security for the President until the agency is fully funded. This is not small matter, especially given that the recommendations were qualified as “crucial” to the protection of the president and his family.
This news is joined by the news that Secret Service Acting Director Joseph Clancy ousted four senior Secret Service leaders yesterday.
The funding of homeland security is not an issue that should be “debated”. How much is an issue for debate. But leaving the agency operating on a CR is not acceptable.
Republicans need to be held accountable for repeatedly using funding the government as a hostage in order to exact policies they didn’t earn the proper way. It is especially egregious that Republicans are holding the DHS hostage at this specific time, ironically hampering border security as they wax hysterical about our borders.
The DHS itself agrees that President Obama shouldn’t cave into the hostage taking, even though they desperately need to be funded. To give in or “negotiate” with Republicans using these kinds of egregious, unusual tactics would be to offer the DHS up as a political hostage/volleyball.
The security of our nation and our president are not negotiating tools for a party that can’t handle the President acting within his constitutional authority via executive actions that impact undocumented immigrants. This is not the way to debate policy and even the hostage itself agrees, the President must not give in.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.