I have been trying to discern the status and prospects of DHS appropriations.
- DHS was not included in the December Omnibus Appropriation. The Department is currently operating on a continuing resolution set to expire on February 27.
- On January 14 the fiscal year 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 240) was passed by the House of Representatives.
- On Tuesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader indicated the Senate will take up the House appropriations bill next week. How Senate action will be structured is not yet clear.
Otherwise it is all rather opaque. At least to me. If you have seen a credible, holistic — mostly non-partisan — analysis, please point me to it and I will highlight it here.
Excluding DHS from the December Omnibus allowed the remainder of the federal government to be funded in a way that did not further undermine public (global) confidence; yet also ensured — or at least implied — that the President’s executive actions on immigration were reserved for future attack and potential defunding. If you will recall, the Omnibus just barely passed, so don’t be too quick to critique this technique.
The House bill includes several measures designed to constrain executive discretion related to immigration. These measures are highlighted in the Explanatory Statement that Hal Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, submitted with the bill. Here’s a take against what the House has done. Here’s a take mostly in favor.
On Tuesday essentially all Senate Democrats signed a letter calling for a “clean” DHS appropriations bill. In the current context this means a bill without any (or most) of the constraints on immigration included in the House bill. To adopt the House bill would, under current Senate rules, require twelve Senate Democrats joining all Republicans. Not going to happen.
Can something be done in the Senate and/or in conference that could give DHS its funding and later pass the House? This is the question for which many are seeking an answer. An obvious — and politically palatable — way forward is certainly not apparent to me.
What seems more likely is lack of closure on the FY2015 appropriations: Best case recurring continuing resolutions. Worst case: Well, sometimes you just don’t want to go there. Worst cases tend to keep unwinding. But in any case, plenty of distraction, demoralization, dysfunction, and potential for even worse.