Democrats Dare Shutdown with DHS Funding Bill
By Preston Huennekens | June 14, 2019
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee advanced a FY 2020 Homeland Security spending bill, setting the stage for another shutdown fight this fall. The initial bill already contained concerning provisions, including funding cuts for border security and interior enforcement, but the markup hearing made it even worse. An amendment offered by Rep. David Price (D-NC), which eventually passed, would completely erase President Trump’s immigration actions since he took office.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), the Subcommittee on Homeland Security’s ranking member, suggested that this poison-pill amendment broke an understanding between the parties that such additions would not occur. He remarked that “we suffered a government shutdown over border fence funds. [This amendment] is controversial and contentious.” Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the full committee’s ranking member, echoed that statement saying “this could set us up for yet another government shutdown.”
The Price Amendment bars the DHS Secretary from using any Federal funds to enforce or implement nine different immigration-related executive actions ordered by President Trump. Many of these are signature victories for the President, including the travel ban and the proposal barring aliens from gaining citizenship if they depend on public welfare. The Amendment also eliminates the successful remain-in-Mexico process recently utilized to stymie the humanitarian crisis at the border. Further, the Amendment prohibits the department from enacting a proposal that would ban aliens detained by border patrol from claiming asylum, forcing them to enter through legitimate ports of entry.
This is an interesting approach by the Democrats to stop the President’s executive orders and agency directives by refusing to fund them. This amendment shows how far the Democrats plan to go in their fight against the President’s immigration policy at the height of the crisis. As it stands, this funding bill has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate without major changes. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has no plans to write the Senate version of this spending bill until an agreement on the overall spending level for 2020 is reached between both houses of Congress and President Trump.
Congress is facing an October 1 deadline to pass a new spending bill before the government shuts down. Until Tuesday, both parties appeared to operate on the shared goal of avoiding a second government shutdown. This DHS appropriations proposal makes that goal much less likely.