The massacre in Paris last week by homegrown French terrorists and the ensuing dragnet to find those responsible have dramatically underscored the need for unstinting vigilance to keep the United States safe. But the Department of Homeland Security will run out of money by the end of next month if additional funding is not approved. Congress must not let that happen.
Republicans insisted on that short leash for the department in December when the lame-duck Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the rest of the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The GOP wanted to hold the Department of Homeland Security hostage as leverage to block President Barack Obama’s executive orders allowing temporary legal status for 5 million immigrants in the country illegally. The short-term funding ensured Congress would revisit the volatile immigration issue after November’s election, when many expected the Republicans to win control of the Senate.
But the violent carnage that claimed at least 17 victims in France last week has the American public on edge about the threat of homegrown terrorism in this country. People who feel vulnerable won’t look kindly on a party threatening to cripple the department whose job is to keep them safe.
So congressional Republicans are looking for a way to thread the needle. They want to withhold funding for Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is in the Department of Homeland Security, without defunding the entire department. It won’t be easy.
That agency, which oversees lawful immigration and would carry out Obama’s executive orders, relies largely on fees paid by immigration applicants rather than money appropriated by Congress.
Republicans unhappy with the executive orders should pass an immigration reform bill more to their liking.
That would be a far more responsible approach from the party that controls both houses of Congress than withholding resources for homeland security at a time of such heightened danger.