Obama Administration Plans for Department of Homeland Security ClosingJustin Sink
With hours to go before funding was set to lapse for the Department of Homeland Security, the Obama administration on Friday was preparing for an agency shutdown.
In a 46-page plan released shortly after the Republican-controlled House failed to pass a stopgap funding measure, the administration outlined how the department would function with an unpaid, skeleton staff. Lawmakers were continuing to negotiate Friday evening as the Senate agreed to extend funding for a week.
Most of the department’s employees would still be required to report to work in a shutdown -- including airport security screeners -- although they would not be paid unless Congress approves retroactive checks.
About 170,000 front-line employees of agencies including the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Secret Service and Transportation Security Administration would remain on the job, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a Thursday letter to lawmakers. Johnson said forcing employees to work without pay is “disruptive and demoralizing.”
About 30,000 employees in the department would be furloughed. That includes 87 percent of headquarters staff, with human resources, information technology, and procurement employees all ordered to stay away from their offices.
“This is not just an inside-the-Beltway political jousting,” Johnson said at a news conference on Thursday. “A failure to fund the Department of Homeland Security fully has real impacts on public safety.”
The department would freeze $2.5 billion in annual grants to state, local and tribal governments. That money is primarily intended for counterterrorism and disaster-relief programs.
A shutdown would also halt disaster recovery grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to communities that have suffered natural disasters.
If the DHS is closed for an extended period, it would stop giving advice to localities over safety at events such as the Boston Marathon.
The federal government also would no longer be able to provide training for local law enforcement at Homeland Security-run facilities in Georgia, New Mexico, South Carolina and Maryland.
The shutdown would also lead the department to end training at Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers. According to the department, approximately 2,000 federal, state, and local trainees would be sent home.