The border wall illuminated at night in Nogales, Arizona on July 6, 2012. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Why shutting down Homeland Security won’t affect Obama’s immigration executive action

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • If DHS shut down, 85 percent of the agency’s workers would still work
  • That includes the agency tasked with carrying out the president’s immigration executive action
  • Some things would stop, including FEMA disaster planning, new border surveillance, or hiring presidential campaign Secret Service agents
  • Republicans distance themselves from Rand Paul on vaccines
  • What would a DHS shutdown look like? Senate Democrats voted to block Republicans’ effort to pass the House version of the funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security… that happened to include an attempt at defunding the president’s executive action on immigration. On NewsHour Monday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said if it didn’t pass, Republicans would go to Plan B. There’s just one problem — “Plan B hasn’t been figured out yet,” Grassley said.

    So, there are now 23 days (Feb. 27) until when DHS would shut down. And you you don’t have to look very far for what that would look like. Lazaro Zamora at the Bipartisan Policy Center reminds that DHS put out its 42-page “Procedures Relating to a Federal Funding Hiatus” in Sept. 2013, just before the government actually did shut down. Even though their paychecks would be halted, many in the agency would still have to report to work, because their jobs are deemed “necessary for safety of human life or protection of property” or because they are “funded by sources other than annual appropriated funds.”

    That includes most of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “the agency in charge of carrying out much of President Obama’s controversial deferred action programs,” Bipartisan Policy Center points out. In fact, during the last shutdown, 85 percent of all DHS workers still had to go in. That included 88 percent of Coast Guard, border, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, so deportations continued.

    So what would stop? Anything related to “planning, research and development, policy functions, auditing, training and development, and legislative, regulatory, public affairs and intergovernmental affairs.” That includes, per BPC and National Journal:

  • Non-disaster FEMA functions like risk mapping
  • Delaying hiring additional Secret Service agents for the presidential election
  • Delaying improvements to immigration detention centers
  • Delaying new border surveillance
  • Training for law enforcement training or civil rights programs
  • E-Verify employment verification
  • Coast Guard services for commercial or recreational boating
  • Tom Ridge, former DHS secretary under George W. Bush, told National Journal: “It’s pretty difficult to plan long term when you don’t exactly know how much you’re going to have available and what strings might be tied to it. My hope is that my Republican friends feel you made your point, get it out as soon as you get back. Give them the funding they need.”

    Republicans distance from Paul on vaccines: Rank-and-file Republicans on Tuesday distanced themselves from Rand Paul’s stance that vaccines should be voluntary and that they could cause “mental disorders.” Two potential 2016 candidates — Florida’s Marco Rubio and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal — both swatted down the notion that vaccines should be optional. “Absolutely, all children in America should be vaccinated,” Rubio said. As for them causing autism? “There is absolutely no medical science or data whatsoever that links those vaccinations to onset of autism or anything of that nature,” the senator said.

    Jindal issued a statement saying there’s been “a lot of fear mongering” and noted, “Personally, I would not send my kids to a school that did not require vaccinations. Vaccinations are important. I urge every parent to get them. Every one.” It was much of the same at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday, where Republicans like Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., by no means a liberal, were strongly saying people should get their children vaccinated.

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1789, electors unanimously chose George Washington to be the first president of the United States. How many states cast electoral votes in the first election (bonus: which ones)? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Travis (@tcd004) for guessing Tuesday’s trivia: What state did Wilson serve as governor of? The answer: New Jersey.



    • The House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 56th time Tuesday, but three blue state Republicans did not to back it. Their reasoning? The repeal offered no alternative legislation.

    • Ashton Carter, Mr. Obama’s nominee to head the Defense Department, faces the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday.

    • The Pentagon has released hundreds of pages of censored emails between Jill Kelley, the Miami socialite whose friendship with Gen. David Petraeus led to his resignation, and top military brass.

    • In a rare showing of bipartisanship, the Senate voted 99-0 on a bill to prevent veteran suicide Tuesday.

    • Alabama same-sex couples will be allowed to marry starting next week, after an Alabama appeals court decided to lift the stay on a lower court ruling.

    • On March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress, and there’s a group of Democrats, including Vice President Joe Biden, who are thinking of boycotting the speech.

    • House Freedom Caucus is aiming to be the most conservative of the conservatives, and not all of the House Republicans think that’s a good thing.

    • Former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., heads to the Hawkeye state Wednesday to meet with Gov. Terry Branstad, as well as top donors and activists to discuss his new initiative, Americans for Peace Prosperity and Security, which is aimed at educating, identifying and mobilizing pro-national security voters during the 2016 presidential caucuses and primaries.

    • Not all outgoing lawmakers jump at the chance to work at fancy Washington law firms.

    • Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., is okay with businesses opting out of a hand washing policy, as long as they post signs saying they have done so.

    • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


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    Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.

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