Monday, February 23, 2015

Political Scandal of the Week: DHS by Caleb Wright

In just a few short hours, the apocalypse will be wrought upon an unwitting American public. Nobody knows how Americans will function as a centerpiece of American life is stolen from them. The Department of Homeland Security is about to run out of money.
Obama’s Executive Orders regarding immigration have largely fallen out of the public eye, but Republicans, notoriously good at letting things go, have made them their new Benghazi. The Department of Homeland Security, largely responsible for enforcing (or, occasionally, not enforcing) immigration law, has gotten caught in the crossfire, as Republicans make their gripes with executive immigration policy known.
Essentially, the Republicans want to tie funding of the DHS to blocking the changes to immigration policy made by the President. While the House passed a funding bill that included such provisions, Democrats narrowly blocked it in the Senate.
Unless Congress magically passes the needed appropriations bill in the next few hours, the DHS will go into funding cuts. But does it matter? Sure, failing to pass a budget and using brinkmanship to achieve political ends isn’t a good thing, but the American public is not about to go into shock, nor is the Department of Homeland Security itself. The cuts impede long-term planning, but won't really affect the Department’s current ability. As The Huffington Post reported:
TSA agents would remain in airports, patrol agents would still be manning the border and Coast Guard officers would continue monitoring the waters if the Department of Homeland Security were to shut down … Employees would go without pay, trainings for local law enforcement and firefighters would be canceled, and new grants to help states and localities deal with disasters would stop, [Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson] and other officials at the press conference said. 
While the DHS itself won’t be significantly affected, the Republican Party might be. Regardless of the procedural technicalities, Republicans will be blamed for the DHS "shutdown." While public opinion at the moment narrowly rests against Obama's immigration orders, as a whole, Americans favor immigration reform, and don't favor attempts to shut down federal services.
Much like the government shutdown in 2013, Republicans will be viewed as anti-reform, anti-immigration, and anti-progress. Whether or not that’s a justified position is another issue; but especially as Republicans are trying to woo Hispanic voters, young voters, and moderate voters for 2016, they can’t just block proposals by the White House.
Instead of relying almost exclusively on inaction, Republicans have to present action. Blocking the DHS is not action. Trying to fix the Department would be, but unfortunately, Republicans aren’t able to think long-term enough to present the needed reform.

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