Recently, a variety of policymakers and pundits have warned that failing to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because of the President’s executive action on immigration would have a negative impact on U.S. security. Congress has been warned repeatedly not to treat our security as a “political volleyball.” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, invoking the specter of terrorist attacks around the world, said that without a budget, the department cannot advance “new grants to state and local law enforcement, additional border security resources, and additional Secret Service resources to implement the changes recommended by the independent panel…aviation security and protection of federal installations and personnel, are also hampered.”
Putting aside the fact that 86 percent of the department will continue to operate without the funding bill—meaning there isn’t any immediate security risk—let’s accept Secretary Johnson’s assertion that without funding, DHS can’t undertake additional initiatives to improve U.S. security. That’s exactly why the House has passed a bill that will fund DHS. The Senate is now considering the bill, and unless 40+ senators vote against funding DHS, it will land on the President’s desk. Then Jeh Johnson and the President will likely veto the funding for the department—funding which Jeh Johnson says is so critical to our security—in order to defend the President’s executive amnesty.
So, which is more important: our security or an unconstitutional amnesty that ignores the law and the role of Congress? According to the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security (and apparently some Senators), amnesty is more important than security.
Secretary Johnson addresses Congress like they have no choice in the matter: Do exactly what we want, or else we will veto security funding. Somehow that’s supposed to be Congress’s fault for standing up for security over amnesty.
Of course, the Secretary is also ignoring the fact that for the past year his focus has been on crafting this executive amnesty and his attention will be consumed by it going forward as he oversees its implementation and defense. So, while this Administration has been focused on amnesty, there are countless other issues at DHS that haven’t received nearly as much attention from its leadership. Did DHS leadership focus on:
- Countering Violent Extremism? The White House has called a belated summit that appears to be a day late and a dollar short.
- Cybersecurity? DHS continues to face a variety of challenges, ranging from poor reviews of its cyber measures at ports to its worrisome cyber-supply-chain-security measures to its unsecure building-access systems.
- DHS Morale? It’s still at rock bottom. DHS was rated the worst large agency in the federal government to work for in a survey of federal employees. Even the scandal-plagued Veterans Administration, the second worst agency to work for, crushed DHS by 10 points in the most recent survey.
When Secretary Johnson says that DHS needs to be funded to make a whole host of improvements, he isn’t kidding. One wonders, then, why these improvements weren’t priorities from the get go? Amnesty was and is the priority while security suffered and will continue to do so.
The biggest threat to DHS is not this funding battle—it’s the Obama Administration’s single-minded focus on executive amnesty to the detriment of real security issues.