Congressional Democrats continued their effort Thursday to prod the Republican-controlled Senate to take up a Department of Homeland Security budget bill that doesn’t link reversing President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration to funding for the agency.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., released a letter signed by former Homeland Security Secretaries Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff, and Janet Napolitano that stated ‘funding for the entire agency should not be put in jeopardy by the debate about immigration.’
‘We do not question your desire to have a larger debate about the nation’s immigration laws,’ the former secretaries wrote. ‘However, we cannot emphasize enough that the DHS’s responsibilities are much broader than its responsibility to oversee the federal immigration agencies and protect our borders.’
Ridge and Chertoff served under former President George W. Bush. Napolitano was Obama’s first homeland security secretary.
The House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this month to fund DHS through September that included amendments to roll back several of Obama’s immigration orders.
If Congress fails to act, DHS’s budget runs dry Feb. 27. The Senate is expected to take up DHS funding soon. But Republican senators are unsure thus far on how to fund DHS and appease members of the party who want to take action against Obama’s orders.
Democrats want the Senate to do a so-called ‘clean bill,’ devoid of amendments related to Obama’s executive orders.
‘If my Republican colleagues want to fix our broken immigration system I welcome them to bring up comprehensive immigration reform because it would surely pass, but if Republicans in Congress want to defund the DHS they are simply creating an unnecessary crisis and putting our nation at severe risk,’ Reid said in a statement.