What’s Left: Allow A Clean Bill To Pass
By Erica Borsack
When you hear the date February 27, what do you think of? Do you think of House of Cards returning to Netflix, or funding for the Department of Homeland Security running out? Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely excited about the return of Frank and Claire Underwood. That being said, protecting our country is even more important than what Underwood will do as president.
I didn’t know what to expect after the midterm elections revealed that the Republicans were going to take over the Senate. Yes, I expected there to be partisan battles, but not over matters as important as Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for keeping the citizens of the United States safe – from TSA to the Secret Service, from Border Control to the Coast Guard, DHS gives the American people a sense of security. DHS employees consist of over 200,000 people who are dedicated to protecting Americans. Currently, we are fighting a war against terror and dealing with groups like ISIS who commit horrific acts of violence. It is despicable that at a time when we need security and the resources to fight terror and keep Americans safe, we cannot pass a funding bill for one of the most important federal agencies in our country.
The Republicans didn’t waste any time once they took control of the Senate to begin playing politics. By adding political riders to the DHS funding bill to nullify the President’s executive orders for amnesty, they are putting our nation’s security at risk to prove a point. Not only did they add these riders that are preventing the Senate from passing the bill to fund DHS, but they also added these riders at the last minute, giving the Democrats no other choice but to vote against the DHS funding bill. If a clean DHS funding bill were presented in the Senate, DHS would be funded instantly, and then the debate about immigration could take place at a different time. Many Democrats are willing, if not eager, to debate immigration. The Democrats don’t have an issue with addressing immigration at a later time, they have an issue discussing immigration when it is tied to DHS funding.
If a clean bill is presented, the immigration debate can begin. The Republicans are in control, and they control what is brought to the floor for debate. They are using the DHS bill politically, and playing politics with something like national security is unacceptable. At a time when ISIS is so strong and is committing terrible acts to innocent people around the world, the United States is sending a bad message that we cannot get our act together to fund one of our largest defense agencies. While other countries are increasing their national security budgets, we cannot even agree to pass a bill that funds our agency for FY2015. We need to be showing ISIS that we won’t back down in the fight against terror, but instead, we are demonstrating that we are not united as a country or government. If we can’t show unity as a government, how can we band together with other countries to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups? The Republicans need to stop trying to prove a point to President Obama and pass a clean funding bill. Playing with national security is not fair to the American people.
Not only will our national security be at risk should DHS shut down, but also many of the DHS employees will have to work without getting paid, including border patrol, TSA and Secret Service. These are all essential employees, and they will need to report regardless of if they are getting paid or not. This is not fair to these workers. They work hard to protect our nation, and what will they get in return? No salary? That is not fair for some of the bravest people in our nation. The DHS employees will continue to show up for work because they are dedicated to our nation and protecting us. Isn’t this the role of government? How can elected officials deny the safety and defense of our country?
Something needs to be done so that DHS is funded as soon as possible so they can continue to protect our country. Will Republicans allow a clean bill to pass, or will they keep playing politics?
Being Right: Accepting Responsibility
By Orion Schelz
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill has been dominating media headlines recently as a volatile issue of national security. However, its symbolic implications for the rest of President Obama’s final term are even greater. After gaining control of the Senate in midterm elections last November, Republicans have new leverage in their ongoing political battle with the President, and the fight over this bill represents them flexing their newfound strength and testing what they are capable of in the shifting political environment of 2015. President Obama and the Democrats’ treatment of past issues such as the Affordable Care Act have undoubtedly made Republicans resentful of the current administration, and it is very reasonable to see this Bill as a response to these past excessive uses of power. The fact of the matter is that, realistically speaking, the controversy over this bill is more of a symbolic showdown than something that will actually impact homeland security. That is to say it might not cause the country to collapse, but how this situation is resolved will set a precedent that will have a significant impact on American politics in the near future.
If you haven’t been following the issue, the DHS represents many services that serve absolutely vital functions to the operation of our state as a whole, being composed of governmental organizations such as the Border Patrol, TSA and even Secret Service operations. However, it has been stated that even should this funding result in a shutdown, the vast majority of these organizations will continue to operate normally, simply because of the gravity of their roles within society. I believe that it is important for us as citizens to recognize the value that these individuals with careers in the DHS have to us, and come to the realization that it is unfair and morally unacceptable to treat their livelihood as a part of a political game.
The current controversy has its roots in recent executive orders by President Obama regarding immigration, which have been questioned extensively by Republicans regarding their legality and constitutional legitimacy. These orders represent a drastic action by the President that went over the heads of elected officials and thus indirectly over voters themselves. As a response, Republicans in the House attached amendments to the DHS funding bill that would ban the federal funding needed to carry out these orders. So far, three votes have been made to block this bill from advancing to Congress, leaving the nation in a sort of stalemate in regard to the issue. Time is running out. While Democrats have used the situation to accuse Republicans of endangering national security, the fact of the matter is that it represents congressional Republicans taking a stand against an overreach of presidential power that disempowers the American people.
No matter which side of the immigration issue you are on, it is easy to see that these executive orders are an abuse of power that furthers the President’s own agenda and unfairly bypass much of the political process. Despite being vilified by the media for their “attack on homeland security,” Republicans are simply doing what they can to protect their right to a fair role in the government decision-making process.
Should a shutdown happen, the President and the Democrats are equally implicit in the situation and should be working toward a solution rather than using this bill’s potential failure as political leverage to unfairly push their own immigration agenda. A real solution that has been proposed would be to use a Condition Resolution to fund the DHS for a limited time, allowing these immigration issues to be resolved in the legal system. However, this is unlikely to be accepted by the Democrats because it would likely result in damage to the new immigration policy that they created through these executive orders.
When it comes down to it, Democrats will have to accept that this type of aggressive and one-sided use of presidential power cannot continue to occur in the current political situation and that they will need to learn to reasonably cooperate with Republicans if they want to get anything done. The sooner Democrats and the President are willing to accept this, the sooner our country as a whole will be able to work towards a meaningful goal. This starts with Obama accepting responsibility for his role in this situation and working with Republicans toward a solution to this funding problem that allows both political parties to have a say in how the immigration issue is handled.