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House rejects Homeland Security funding bill

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Hawaii’s two representatives voted against a failed Republican attempt Friday to extend Department of Homeland Security funding  through March 19.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai pushed instead for passage of a bill approved by the Senate that would provide funding through the remainder of the fiscal year.

“I’m not going to vote for a measure that only continues the partisan games by Republicans trying to insert their anti-immigration agenda,” Takai, a Democrat, said in a release.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also voted against the Republican bill.

Homeland Security is headed for a potential partial shutdown at midnight Friday without funding approval. After the House measure failed, the Senate voted to fund the agency for a week and sent that bill to the House..

The Republican-led House passed a bill last month that funded the agncy but also defunded President Barack Obama’s executive orders deferring deportation and granting work permits for some undocumented workers. Senate Democrats blocked the measure four times.

A bipartisan deal brokered Wednesday and approved in the Senate would fund the department with a bill that decouples $39.7 billion to fund the federal agency from Obama’s controversial executive orders on immigration. 

“We must insist on funding DHS for the entire fiscal year now,” Takai said. “The Senate has passed a clean funding bill. Every House Democrat has co-sponsored a clean funding bill. House Speaker John Boehner, if he wanted to, could hold a vote right now to pass a clean funding bill. Instead, the Republicans want three more weeks to continue to try to tack their anti-immigration measures on to DHS funding. We cannot keep the security of our nation — and hundreds of thousands of workers’  incomes and their lives —  in limbo for another three weeks while the Republicans continue their partisan grandstanding.” 

The House as of 6:30 p.m. Eastern time was considered in recess, subject to call of the chairman, and further votes are still possible Friday or through the weekend, Takai said.

If funding runs out, more than 3,000 employees in Hawaii will still have to report to work without pay, or be furloughed without pay, Takai’s office said.

Repayment would likely come later, as it did with a 2013 government shutdown, but morale and day-to-day finances could be affected.

The department is operating on a continuing resolution that expires Friday. Without continued funding, the vast majority — about 200,000 of homeland security’s 230,000 employees — would stay on the job as essential workers, albeit without pay, including Transportation Security Administration employees at airports.

The Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection also would be affected.

Another 30,000 mainly administrative personnel, including headquarters staffs, would be furloughed.

“There would be a blow to morale and an effect on operations,” Takai said. “There will be consequences.”

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