Moving to avoid a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, Republican leaders decided to give themselves extra time, opting to move ahead with a three week extension of the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, delaying a budget showdown over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration until March 19.
“We cannot let the President get away with unconstitutional activity,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), as GOP lawmakers vented their frustration over their effort to block the President’s immigration changes.
“We are going to hold the line to defend the Constitution, and we are going to defend the country with homeland security funding,” said Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK).
Republicans though acknowledged there was no guarantee this would do anything other than extend the current deadlock into mid-March.
“At the end of the day, who knows what’s going to happen,” said Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL), who told reporters in the basement of the U.S. Capitol that he was pleased with the move of GOP leaders:
Democrats were not happy with the delay; House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) made that clear on the floor of the House, in an exchange with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
“You coward,” Hoyer could be heard to say off camera after McCarthy had outlined the decision to vote on a three week temporary budget for homeland defense.
Hoyer later apologized.
The reaction of the Obama Administration was negative to the idea of a three week funding extension as well.
“A short-term continuing resolution exacerbates the uncertainty for my workforce and puts us back in the same position, on the brink of a shutdown just days from now,” said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who had spent part of his day just off the House floor chatting with lawmakers in both parties.
The funding plan from Republicans would extend money for DHS until the heart of March Madness:
Outside the Capitol, one Democratic strategist who used to work for Senate Democrats saw the delay as a good thing for his party, and not for the GOP:
In the end, the GOP has few options. While there is a vocal group of Republican lawmakers who want to force a budget shutdown showdown over the Department of Homeland Security and the President’s immigration actions – there might be a silent majority opposed to that in both the House and Senate.
“I don’t think we can shut down DHS in this environment,” said Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who like many other Republicans seemed frustrated with the limited options of his party.