On Friday February 27, 2015, Congress avoided a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by passing a one-week extension. The extension buys lawmakers additional time to reach a broader agreement on long-term funding for the agency. The extension was agreed upon after efforts to pass a three-week extension fell short in the House of Representatives, signaling division within the GOP between House Speaker John Boehner and more conservative elements of his caucus.
DHS funding became an issue in November 2014 when President Obama announced executive action granting temporary relief to roughly 4 million undocumented immigrants. Republicans complained that the president had overstepped his authority, but were divided on how to respond. They ultimately decided to fully fund most of the government through September 2015 (the end of the fiscal year) while only funding the Department of Homeland Security through February 2015. This would set up a showdown over funding to the agency responsible to administer the president’s executive action.
The latest round of negotiations and passage of the one-week extension signaled that GOP leadership is ready to give up this fight for now while allowing the legal challenges to the president’s executive action play out in court.
Update: On Tuesday March 3, Congress passed a clean bill to fully fund the DHS through the end of fiscal year 2015.