Legislative Activity

DHS Funding Deadline Days Away

With days before U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding expires on February 27, Congress appears no closer to resolving the partisan impasse. The Senate has set aside time Monday to vote on the House version of the spending bill (H.R. 240), but it remains to be seen whether Republicans will secure enough support for the bill as is, or whether it will be amended and returned to the House for another vote. The House has also set aside time this week for consideration of H.R. 240.

Senate Democrats have filibustered the current version of the FY 2015 DHS appropriations bill, which includes language blocking President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. As a means to deal with the Senate Democrats’ filibuster, there are reports that that some Republican senators may support changing the current filibuster rules to overcome the 60-vote procedural hurdle currently facing H.R. 240.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could also propose another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to head-off a shutdown of DHS. However, DHS officials have cautioned that a short-term fix like a CR restricts the agency by preventing implementation of new programs, like upgrading systems for Customs and Border Protection or providing new grants to local governments for emergency response teams.

But only five legislative days remain before the current funding bill expires, limiting the number of options available to avoiding a shut-down of DHS.

This Week’s Hearings

  • Tuesday, February 24: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Improving the Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Independence of Inspectors General.”
  • Wednesday, February 25: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System.”
  • Wednesday, February 25: The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Unconstitutionality of Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration.”
  • Thursday, February 26: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence will hold a hearing titled “Addressing Remaining Gaps in Federal, State, and Local Information Sharing.”
  • Thursday, February 26: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency will hold a hearing titled “Assessing DHS’s Performance: Watchdog Recommendations to Improve Homeland Security.”

Executive Activity

Federal Judge Blocks President Obama’s Immigration Actions

On Monday, February 17, a federal judge in Texas blocked implementation of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The judge did not rule on the merits of the case, which was filed by 26 states challenging the President’s actions, but did put in place a temporary injunction pending its outcome. The injunction halts the creation of a new deferred deportation program for parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents announced by the President last November. It also calls on DHS to stop expansion of the Obama Administration’s 2012 program deferring deportation for certain immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

On Tuesday afternoon, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that his agency would not begin accepting applications of those newly eligible under the DACA program. Some Republican legislators have suggested that they might approve proceeding with DHS spending legislation without its controversial immigration riders, and holding on Congressional action until the federal case is decided. Late on Friday, a White House spokesperson confirmed that the Department of Justice plans to seek an emergency stay to lift the injunction. Ultimately, the case could take months, if not more, to work its way through the appeals process.