Abalysis: DHS shutdown would have 'very limited impact national security'

The Associated Press did some fact checking on the claims of Democrats and some Republicans that a shut down of the Department of Homeland Security would have terrible consequences for our national security.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the wild rhetoric coming from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski:

"There are ghoulish, grim predators out there who would love to kill us or do us harm," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. "We should not be dillydallying and playing parliamentary pingpong with national security."...

"If this goes to shutdown," Mikulski said, "this could close down ports up and down the East Coast, because if you don't have a Coast Guard, you don't have the ports. You don't have the ports, you don't have an economy."

But if the department loses its money, the Coast Guard will stay in operation and so will the ports.

Human sacrifice. Cats and dogs living together...mass hysteria!

The facts are a little more mundane, as AP points out:

In the view of some House conservatives, though, shutting off the agency's $40 billion budget for a time "is obviously not the end of the world," as Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., put it, because many agency employees would stay at work through a shutdown.

Who's right, and what would the impact be if Congress were to let money for the department lapse?

Salmon and a few other conservatives are the only ones saying it publicly so far, but the reality is that a department shutdown would have a very limited impact on national security.

That's because most department employees fall into exempted categories of workers who stay on the job in a shutdown because they perform work considered necessary to protect human life and property. Even in a shutdown, most workers across agencies, including the Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Customs and Border Protection, would continue to report to work.

Airport security checkpoints would remain staffed, the Secret Service would continue to protect the president and other dignitaries, the Coast Guard would stay on patrol, immigration agents would still be on the job.

Indeed, of the agency's approximately 230,000 employees, some 200,000 of them would keep working even if Congress fails to fund their agency. It's a reality that was on display during the 16-day government-wide shutdown in the fall of 2013, when national parks and monuments closed but essential government functions kept running, albeit sometimes on reduced staff.

It's true that even though those workers will remain on the job, they won't get paid. This could present a problem for Congress who would be bombarded with pleas from ordinary Americans who work for DHS to restore their paychecks. And let's face it - regardless of what the AP says, Democrats will demogogue the issue for all it's worth. The press will chime in and try to scare people into believing that defunding DHS is a reckless and dangerous move.

So in the end, the political dynamic remains the same, even if the facts are available to anyone willing to look.

 

The Associated Press did some fact checking on the claims of Democrats and some Republicans that a shut down of the Department of Homeland Security would have terrible consequences for our national security.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the wild rhetoric coming from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski:

"There are ghoulish, grim predators out there who would love to kill us or do us harm," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. "We should not be dillydallying and playing parliamentary pingpong with national security."...

"If this goes to shutdown," Mikulski said, "this could close down ports up and down the East Coast, because if you don't have a Coast Guard, you don't have the ports. You don't have the ports, you don't have an economy."

But if the department loses its money, the Coast Guard will stay in operation and so will the ports.

Human sacrifice. Cats and dogs living together...mass hysteria!

The facts are a little more mundane, as AP points out:

In the view of some House conservatives, though, shutting off the agency's $40 billion budget for a time "is obviously not the end of the world," as Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., put it, because many agency employees would stay at work through a shutdown.

Who's right, and what would the impact be if Congress were to let money for the department lapse?

Salmon and a few other conservatives are the only ones saying it publicly so far, but the reality is that a department shutdown would have a very limited impact on national security.

That's because most department employees fall into exempted categories of workers who stay on the job in a shutdown because they perform work considered necessary to protect human life and property. Even in a shutdown, most workers across agencies, including the Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Customs and Border Protection, would continue to report to work.

Airport security checkpoints would remain staffed, the Secret Service would continue to protect the president and other dignitaries, the Coast Guard would stay on patrol, immigration agents would still be on the job.

Indeed, of the agency's approximately 230,000 employees, some 200,000 of them would keep working even if Congress fails to fund their agency. It's a reality that was on display during the 16-day government-wide shutdown in the fall of 2013, when national parks and monuments closed but essential government functions kept running, albeit sometimes on reduced staff.

It's true that even though those workers will remain on the job, they won't get paid. This could present a problem for Congress who would be bombarded with pleas from ordinary Americans who work for DHS to restore their paychecks. And let's face it - regardless of what the AP says, Democrats will demogogue the issue for all it's worth. The press will chime in and try to scare people into believing that defunding DHS is a reckless and dangerous move.

So in the end, the political dynamic remains the same, even if the facts are available to anyone willing to look.