A Federal Protective Services Officer in Washington, D.C., in December 2014.

Credit: Elvert Barnes / Flickr Creative Commons

Is The Department of Homeland Security Barreling Toward A Shutdown?

February 25, 2015

Congressman William Keating never thought it would come to this.

The Department of Homeland Security is just days away from a shutdown unless Congress refuses to pass an essential funding bill. The point of contention? The original bill included language blocking President Obama's recent executive action on immigration.

Keating joined Boston Public Radio by phone this morning from Washington, D.C., to discuss the bill's progress—or lack thereof.

"I left yesterday and most people I talked to that were paying attention to this homeland issue had said, 'this is not going to happen,'" Keating said. "I've come down here [to Washington, D.C.] in this different world and found it could happen."

This morning, Keating expressed frustration that Democratic leadership in the Senate—spearheaded by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid—had not yet forced the issue to a vote, saying he would wait until he had a clear sign from House Speaker John Boehner on how the House would vote.

But waiting for a clear signal from Boehner, Keating continued, was expecting the impossible.

"He's asking John Boehner to do something he hasn't been able to do in four years," Keating said.

Senate Democrats later reversed their position and voted in favor of a "clean" homeland security funding bill, with immigration language removed, this afternoon.

Homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, who also joined the conversation, expressed disbelief that the shutdown would actually come to pass.

"I could not imagine we were going to come to this moment, because what was the House Republicans' exit strategy?" she said.

"They knew they were going to lose it in the Republican Senate. Someone is going to fold, and that person is going to be a Republican," she explained. "For me, if you're just thinking strategically politically but also about the security of the United States, you're either going to fold now, before the D.H.S. shuts down, or soon after. So why put everyone through this exercise in immature behavior?"

Now, it's up to the House.

To hear more from Congressman William Keating and homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, tune in to the full segment on Boston Public Radio above.


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