Why Gambling On Shutting Down The Department Of Homeland Security Is Bad For Everyone
Remember when the GOP promised to responsibly govern after taking control of both the House and the Senate last November? Well some things never change. After eight weeks of a Republican-controlled Congress, conservatives are still using the politics of brinksmanship and shutdowns to push an extreme agenda — this time risking our national security and threatening to withhold paychecks for working people. The first month of the GOP Congress was defined by Republican infighting over the Affordable Care Act, taxes, immigration and abortion, but now they’ve decided that fighting each other over funding for the Department of Homeland Security is the best approach. One day remains until the the agency shuts down, unless Congress acts.
Shutting down the Department of Homeland Security would be horrible for a number of reasons. For one, it would be bad for our national security. A DHS shutdown would send support staff home for a number of agencies, including the FBI, which just this week caught three alleged would-be terrorists in New York City. Continuing counterterrorism activities, like being proactive against recent threats to the Mall of America, would be jeopardized by any shutdown. Even some Republicans acknowledged these risks: As Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said yesterday, “We can’t allow DHS not be funded. People think we’re crazy. They’re terrorist attacks all over the world, and we’re talking about closing down Homeland Security. This is like living in the world of the crazy people.”
On top of that, shutting down DHS would be bad for our economy. Republicans want to shut down the Department in order to stop President Obama’s immigration executive actions, which would allow our immigration enforcement professionals to exercise discretion in deportations, rather than an open-ended deportation policy. (CAP recently calculated that if Republicans got their way and deported the beneficiaries of the President’s executive action carte blanche, it would cost over $50 billion.)
Shutting down DHS would mean that 55 percent of the Department’s workforce would work without pay and another 15 percent would be furloughed. That amounts to 130,000 people working without pay and another 30,000 not even working, because of politics. Activities critical to state and local public safety and security would be put on hold, including billions in funding for states, local and tribal governments. An Immigration, Customs and Enforcement agent in Houston would lose $2,366 per paycheck while a Border Patrol agent in southern Arizona would lose $2,398, paychecks that make or break middle-class families.
We’ve included these graphics to easily share how Republicans are making the wrong move by threatening to shut down DHS:
BOTTOM LINE: Enough with the brinksmanship you promised to end. Shutting down DHS in a gambit to end the President’s lawful and prudent executive actions on immigration is high-stakes politics that hurts working families and is a dangerous risk for the country. Already, the Senate is doing what should have been done in the first place: move forward with a “clean” funding bill that would fully fund the Department of Homeland Security. Meanwhile, extreme right-wing members of the House and a compliant GOP leadership are placing our national security at risk and putting middle class families on the line.
The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.