President Obama was poised to shut down the entire Department of Homeland Security if Congress failed to provide funding for his controversial amnesty program for illegal immigrants, but a vote by the House of Representatives has made that move unnecessary.

Last December in a year-end interview with the Huffington Post, Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer admitted that the president was set to veto anything but a “clean” bill that would fund the department in its entirety, including the amnesty provisions.

Without funding, the department would have needed to make adjustment in services and furlough some of its 225,000 employees. In addition to placing the security of the nation at risk, a presidential veto would have provided the administration with an opportunity to place the blame for partial shutdowns of department agencies squarely on Republicans.

The Department of Homeland Security was formed in 2001 following the attacks of September 11 and is charged with protecting the U.S. from terrorist threats in addition to border control. Shutting down the department, or even threatening to do so at a time when terrorist attacks are becoming more extreme and more frequent around the world could have meant a weakening of America’s defenses for the purpose of making political points.

As it turned out, the president will not have to use his veto power as the House passed a ‘clean’ bill funding the department, with no limits on spending for the amnesty program, through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Although the Constitution vests Congress with making law on immigration and naturalization, Obama bypassed Congress with an executive order to implement his campaign promises of immigration reform. The order provides for the issuance of Social Security cards, drivers’ licenses, and work permits for an estimated four million illegal immigrants.

Despite a virtual mandate from the voters in the November mid-term elections to reign in the president’s executive actions, and GOP promises during the campaign, the funding bill passed easily with 75 Republicans voting with all Democrats to fund the department in its entirety by 257-167. The bill passed in the Senate along a similar split, 68-31.

Funding the amnesty program has been one of the most contentious issues facing the new Congress with weeks of debate, testimony and deal making ahead of a deadline showdown.

The president blamed Republicans for the last shutdown of the department ordering highly visible cutbacks on TSA staff at airports, reducing access to national parks and cancelling White House tours for schoolchildren designed to negatively impact the public as much possible.

The administration came in for ridicule, however, when it attempted to prevent aged veterans from making their ‘Honor Flight’ to the national World War II Memorial in Washington, when the vets made short work of moving the barricades using canes and wheelchairs.


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