Homeland Security Chief: 'Absurd' Congress Is Flirting With Shutdown

Says shutdown would hurt ability to respond to ISIS
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2015 12:08 PM CST
Homeland Security Chief: 'Absurd' Congress Is Flirting With Shutdown
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Count Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson as no great fan of the United States Congress: With his department facing a possible shutdown if Congress doesn't vote to fund it by Friday, Johnson said that could hamper his ability to respond to everything from winter weather to ISIS, reports the AP. "It's absurd that we're even having this conversation about Congress' inability to fund Homeland Security in these challenging times," he said. Inaction, he said, means 30,000 DHS workers would go on furlough, including 80% of FEMA employees. Johnson also warned today that officials are taking seriously an al-Shabab threat against the Mall of America.

"The thing that, frankly, is frustrating me when I go to the Senate, they say 'It’s not us, it’s the House,'" Johnson said, per the Hill. Over in the House, Johnson says, they say "'We passed our bill, it's not us. I’m hoping someone will exercise some leadership." The House has passed a bill that ties funding to rolling back immigration; the Senate wants a clean version. "We should have debate about immigration reform but you should not tie that to funding of the department," Johnson says. John Boehner said last week he would "certainly" allow a shutdown. (Read more Jeh Johnson stories.)

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