Legislative Activity

Senate Democrats Oppose House DHS Funding Bill

Led by Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), all 46 Senate Democrats filibustered the Senate’s attempt to take up the House-passed FY 2015 Department of Homeland Security [DHS] Appropriations Act (H.R. 240) multiple times last week. They were joined by Republican Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). The Democrats oppose a number of provisions in the House-passed bill, in particular a number of riders to prohibit funding of President Barack Obama’s executive immigration actions.

Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), continue to meet to determine how to garner enough Democratic support to advance the bill before DHS funding expires on February 27, while still satisfying Republicans who want to make a statement opposing President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Republican leadership is trying to pressure six Democrats to switch their votes, arguing that the public will blame Democrats if DHS is forced to shut down certain operations.

Senate Democrats have urged the Senate to take up a clean version of the bill without the policy riders.  If Senate Republicans agree, they will still need to allow sufficient time to reach an agreement with the House.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, February 11: The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled “Countering Violent Islamist Extremism: The Urgent Threat of Foreign Fighters and Homegrown Terror.”
  • Wednesday, February 11: The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security will hold a hearing on pending immigration enforcement legislation.
  • Thursday, February 12: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies will hold a hearing titled “Emerging Threats and Technology to Protect the Homeland.”

Executive Branch Activity

OMB Announces President’s DHS Budget

On February 2, the Office of Management and Budget released President Obama’s FY 2016 Budget Request. While the Republican-led Congress does not plan to advance many of the budget’s provisions, Republicans and the Obama administration agree on providing robust support for DHS. The President’s budget proposes $41.2 billion in DHS discretionary funding, focusing on the following five priority areas: (1) preventing terrorism and enhancing security; (2) securing and managing U.S. borders; (3) enforcing and administering immigration laws; (4) safeguarding and securing cyberspace; and (5) strengthening national preparedness and resilience. DHS has also allocated funds for the following reform efforts: (1) enhancing unity across the components that comprise DHS to strengthen business processes, update the organizational structure, and bolster command and control functions; and (2) prioritizing investments in technology and risk-based, intelligence-driven programs such as Pre-Check and Global Entry.