Boehner Prepared to Let the DHS Shut Down

February 15, 2015 Updated: February 15, 2015

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) said on Sunday that he was prepared to let the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) run out of funding if Democrats continue to filibuster a funding bill that also reverses President Obama’s immigration policies.

When asked by Fox News whether he was “prepared to let” the DHS shut down, Boehner said: “Certainly. The house has acted, we’ve done our job.”

Funding for DHS, which operates programs such as border security, cybersecurity, and emergency response, and employs nearly a quarter million Americans, runs on out Feb. 27, although essential personnel would continue working without pay in the event of a temporary shut down.

Boehner has repeatedly said that the House has fulfilled its obligations to pass a bill funding the DHS, but until Sunday had not definitively ruled out the possibility of passing a “clean” version of the bill that Democrats would be willing to pass, one stripped of the immigration-related provisions.

“They’re the ones jeopardizing funding,” Boehner said. “The Senate Democrats should be to blame.”

Immigration Fight

In November, president Obama issued an executive action that would shield 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation and grant them work permits. Republicans have castigated the action as unconstitutional, and Boehner promised in December to use the funding needed for the DHS as leverage to reverse the order.

The DHS bill funding bill has amendments that would not only defund the November immigration order, but also halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that began in 2012 and served as a prototype for the November order.

The bill has been filibustered by Senate Democrats three times since it was passed in the House, and Senate Republicans have offered to open the bill up to amendments in an attempt to placate Democrats.

“If our Democrat colleagues don’t like provisions in the bill the House has passed, the Senate has a process for modifying bills. It’s called amending them. But the Senate can only consider amendments to a bill if it’s not being filibustered,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement Thursday.

If our Democrat colleagues don’t like provisions in the bill the House has passed, the Senate has a process for modifying bills. It’s called amending them.
— Mitch McConnell

House Democrats introduced a “clean” DHS funding bill Wednesday, but it was voted down unanimously by Republicans.

A majority of Americans oppose the president’s November immigration order and support Congressional efforts to block it. A Washington Post-ABC News poll from January found that 56 percent of Americans wanted Republicans to defund the immigration order, a figure cited in a letter sent by House Republicans to Senate Minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

“By preventing the Senate from taking up the House-passed bill, you are also denying the American people a fair debate on this issue,” reads a letter by Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and signed by 169 House Republicans.

“And a fair debate is what the American people want–they fundamentally disagree with President Obama’s actions and believe that he has unlawfully acted alone.”

On the actual substance of immigration, a Gallup poll from January found that 39 percent of Americans wanted to see a decrease from the current level of immigration, 7 percent wanted to see an increase, and 47 percent were satisfied with the status quo.