WASHINGTON -- With just weeks remaining before the Department of Homeland Security runs out of money, a nonpartisan coalition of mayors is calling on the United States Senate to pass a "clean" funding bill for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors penned a letter on Wednesday asking the heads of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Homeland Security to "expeditiously" fund the department so that it can be fully functioning at a time of great risk. The letter, which was provided to The Huffington Post, invokes recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Ottawa and Sydney to underscore the risk posed by the current showdown over DHS funding.
"A fully functioning Department of Homeland Security is critical to the security of our nation, our cities, and our citizens," Tom Cochran, the group's CEO and executive director, wrote. "A Department operating on a short-term continuing resolution, despite its best efforts, faces uncertainty and delays and simply cannot be fully functioning."
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had addressed the mayors conference last month, saying efforts to protect the border and fight domestic terrorism would be impeded if Congress delayed the department's funding, which expires on Feb. 27.
DHS funding has been stalled in Congress amid efforts by Republicans to unravel President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration. Senate Democrats filibustered a House-passed bill on Tuesday that would fund the DHS while ending one of Obama's signature policies, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA. The policy allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country and work temporarily.
The GOP's bill would also block the president from providing relief to an estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants, a move he announced in November. House Republicans are mulling a lawsuit over Obama's actions, which they argue are unconstitutional.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), the top Democrat on the appropriations committee, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), ranking member on the DHS appropriations subcommittee, introduced their own "clean" DHS funding bill last week. Obama, who issued a veto threat on the House-passed bill, has also urged Republicans to take up a clean measure.
"The men and women of America's homeland security apparatus do important work to protect us and Republicans and Democrats in Congress should not be playing politics with that," Obama said in a speech at DHS headquarters on Monday. "We need to fund the department. Pure and simple."
The three former DHS secretaries, two Republicans and one Democrat, also came out last week in support of a clean bill and urged Congress not to delay the funding for the department.