In a transparently absurd attempt to appear tough, it looks increasingly like the GOP controlled Congress may actually allow DHS to “shut down” if Obama vetoes the DHS funding bill over the language overturning his amnesty executive order. I put “shut down” in scare quotes because 87% of DHS employees are considered essential employees and thus would continue working in the event of a “shut down.” Literally all the front line DHS workers (TSA screeners, border agents, Coast Guard, secret service, immigration workers) will continue working, only the administrative personnel will be furloughed.
That isn’t preventing Obama from using the most predictable (and tiresome) Washington Monument Defense in recent memory:
He noted that the department is responsible for patrolling the borders, coasts and airports.
“Particularly for Republicans who claim that they are interested in strong border security, why would you cut off your nose to spite your face by defunding the very operations that are involved in making sure that we’ve got strong border security, particularly at a time when we’ve got real concerns about countering terrorism?” Obama asked.
Here’s what we can say about Obama’s dedication to border security and combatting terrorism: it is definitionally less than his commitment to ignoring the immigration laws of the United States that he swore to uphold and enforce. This entire debacle only exists because Democrats (at his insistence) are blocking a bill that fully funds DHS and reverses his (probably unconstitutional) executive order. Democrats could prevent a shutdown of DHS tomorrow by passing the Republican bill and then having an immigration reform fight separately in Congress. As, you know, the Constitution contemplated when it specifically granted to Congress the right to set a uniform rule of naturalization.
Consider the implications of Obama’s stated position – to wit, that allowing the DHS “shut down” will imperil the safety and security of the United States. If that is true, then Obama is willing to voluntarily imperil the safety and security of the United States just to preserve an Executive Order that was issued for transparently political reasons.
Overturning Executive Orders via legislation is part of Congress’ prerogative when they feel that the Executive Order in question does not fairly constitute an interpretation of duly passed legislation. If Obama’s desire to preserve this executive order against the will of Congress is strong enough that he is willing to see DHS shut down over it, then clearly either the DHS “shut down” isn’t every important or, if it is, Obama just doesn’t care very much about the safety and security of this country.
Obama can’t have it both ways with respect to this particular Washington Monument defense. He isn’t facing a Congress that refuses to fund DHS at all, just one that is funding it subject to undoing one of his temper tantrums. He can’t pretend that it’s important to not allow DHS to “shut down” while at the same time ensuring that it does “shut down” over such a trivial issue.