Homeland Security budget deadline looms: What's at stake?

Kevin Chupka
·Executive Producer/Writer

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will lose funding Friday unless Congress passes a new budget. Democrats want a ”clean” funding bill without any amendments. Republicans, on the other hand, are using the bill to try and defund at least part of the President’s executive order on immigration.

Late Wednesday the Senate passed a clean bill 98-2. The fate of that legislation in the House of Representatives remains unclear today.

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If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, about 15% of Homeland Security employees could be furloughed.

Most public facing employees would not be impacted. That includes border patrol officers, the Coast Guard and most TSA officers.

But before you rest easy about lines at the airport, think back to the government shutdown of 2013. Some TSA screeners were taken away from their usual posts to cover for administrative workers and some airport security lines suffered the consequences. The same could be true this time around.

Still, most of the furloughs would come from DHS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Those who would be sent home fall into the “non-essential personnel” category. According to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, even “non-essential” workers play an important role in "stay[ing] one step ahead of groups such as ISIL."

Other DHS money that would stop flowing should Congress fail to pass a DHS budget includes:

  • $90 million in border security enhancements

  • $21 million to the secret service for the 2016 election

  • $2.5 billion given to various states, cities and towns to beef up law enforcement

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters earlier this week, “I’m waiting for the Senate to act.” They did, and the ball is in his court today.

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