By Jewell Porter ’16
“Congress barely meets DHS deadline.” “Shutdown of Homeland Security averted as Pelosi comes to rescue.” “Homeland Security shutdown looms after House fails to approve funding.” “House Passes One-Week Funding Extension for Homeland Security.”
The mainstream media framed last week’s Congressional debate over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), one of the nation’s leading institutions in preventing domestic and international terrorism.
According to its website, the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security is to create “a safer, more secure America, which is resilient against terrorism and other potential threats.” More specifically, founded directly after the 9/11 attacks, the DHS is responsible for Customs and Border Control, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Secret Service.
Despite the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has played a vital role in protecting the United States from terrorism, some stubborn House Republicans were unwilling to fund the vital Department. Instead, they passed a bill that would fund the DHS, but would also undercut some of President Obama’s immigration policies.
Last Friday, when the DHS was set to run out of money at midnight, the Republican majority attempted to pass a bill that would fund the department for three more weeks, giving House Republicans more time to negotiate a bill in their favor.
This failed with a vote of 203-224. However, once the eleventh hour struck, both the House and Senate were finally able to pass a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security until March 6. Minutes before the deadline, President Barack Obama signed the bill and secured funding for the DHS for the next week.
Our nation’s supposedly most capable people are in charge of ensuring funding for departments like the DHS, but they allowed their own disagreements about President Obama’s immigration policy to potentially fail to fund one of the most pivotal American agencies in preventing domestic and international terrorism.
While Congress bickers, ISIS and other terrorist organizations are mobilizing young radicals all over the world to join them in their fight. For example, as reported in The New York Times last week, Jihadi John, the member of ISIS responsible for the beheadings of several British and American hostages, was identified as a 26-year-old man from West London.
Similarly, The New York Times reported last week that three men from Brooklyn attempted to aid ISIS; one of the Brooklyn men attempted to fund the trip of two other men in their pursuit to “travel thousands of miles to fight under the banner of the Islamic State.”
Knowing this, the United States government still waited until just ten minutes before the deadline to secure funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
Understanding what is at stake without the protection of the DHS, a cohort of House Republicans were still willing to deny this department funding because of a smaller dispute about President Obama’s immigration policy.
My question is: will the U.S. government ever keep partisanship from completely disrupting some of our nation’s most important institutions?