Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is threatening to withhold federal grants from local law enforcement if Congress refuses to fund President Obama’s executive amnesty.
As the deadline approaches, on Feb. 27, Johnson sent a letter to local sheriffs and city mayors ticking off a list of security functions that would lose grant money if DHS isn’t fully funded, including extra security at schools and colleges, subways, trains and tunnels, surveillance equipment and bomb-sniffing dogs, tanks for firefighters in Denver, 150 firefighter jobs in Detroit and salaries for emergency managers in all 50 states.
Johnson, warning that “the clock is ticking,” demanded a DHS appropriations bill for fiscal 2015, “unburdened by politically charged amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions on immigration reform. The president has made plain that he will veto a bill that includes such language.”
The mayors immediately caved, as the U.S. Conference of Mayors sent a letter to Senate Republican leaders urging them to comply with Obama’s and Johnson’s demands.
But Johnson’s tactics seem to have had the opposite effect on sheriffs like David Clarke Jr. of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and Justin Smith of Larimer County, Colorado.
“These are strong-arm tactics, obviously,” Clarke told WND in a phone interview. “It’s nothing more than alarmist rhetoric from the secretary. He’s playing politics with the homeland security of the United States.”
The sheriffs say Johnson’s “veiled threats” amount to a high-stakes game of political football, at a time when ISIS and other terrorist organizations are upping their activity worldwide.
Before leaving for Christmas break, the lame-duck Congress funded DHS only through Feb. 27 because it wanted to rein in Obama’s executive amnesty, which grants work permits to 5 million illegal aliens.
If the Senate Democrats don’t drop their filibuster, then the DHS will go into partial shutdown mode, funded only by a continuing resolution.
But, as the American public learned last year, a “shutdown” doesn’t really mean a “shutdown.”
Thousands of federal workers will stay home while thousands of others considered “essential” will come to work and not get paid – at least not until the appropriations bill passes.
If Johnson were to carry out his threats, those who would be hurt most would be the public, which depends on local law enforcement using grants from the feds, Clarke said.
Johnson has threatened to hold back those grants if the Republicans don’t blink and drop their demands on amnesty and send the president what Democrats are calling a “clean” budget – meaning a budget with full funding for executive amnesty.
“If this thing reaches an impasse, there will be no shutdown of Homeland Security,” Clarke said. “What happens is, the president can designate certain functions as vital and exempt. Under the last shutdown, 85 percent of Homeland Security continued to function as normal, so this is nothing but alarmist rhetoric, and I hate to see homeland security and national security put under the realm of politics.”
Clarke said all of his joint task forces operate with at least some federal funding.
“Our joint terrorist task force, the overtime and the equipment they use is part of my responsibility. We have people assigned to various other task forces funded by the feds, and they would continue in a shutdown situation,” he said. “I don’t have an exact figure but all the people I have assigned to intelligence gathering and intelligence analysis, they (the feds) call us when they want that.”
“We have our dogs paid for by federal grants,” he said.
“The Transportation Security Administration pays for my whole airport operation,” Clarke added. “I have 50 people assigned to the airport, so you do the math. We’re talking millions of dollars, from the TSA, and so you take that away and then the airport is not protected. I don’t expect that to happen. The president will blink in the end. But what bothers me is they’re playing politics with homeland security. He shouldn’t do that. It’s almost like playing politics with our military. You don’t do that. But then again, this is Washington, D.C.”
“These aren’t discretionary grants,” he said. “These are vital operations.”
Clarke isn’t the only sheriff pushing back against the Obama administration’s hardball tactics of using national security as leverage for funding amnesty.
Smith, the sheriff of Larimer County, is also speaking out about the memo he received from Johnson this week.
“I received a very interesting veiled-threat letter from Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, addressed to all police chiefs and sheriffs around the country,” Smith wrote in a Feb. 3 Facebook posting.
“His letter made it clear that if Congress didn’t send President Obama the DHS funding bill that he wanted (rubber stamping the president’s executive amnesty), local and state public safety agencies would not receive federal grants they were counting on because the president would veto the DHS funding bill,” Smith continued. “Let me get this straight – the president believes he has the authority to nullify federal laws that don’t serve his personal agenda, but if Congress dares to exercise its responsibility of controlling the purse strings, he will willingly hold public safety grants hostage just to get his way?
“Mr. President, you don’t have to love the Congress we elected, but you do have to respect their role as established under the Constitution – and Mr. Johnson, please show some integrity and stop with the threats. Sheriffs don’t take kindly to them.”
Smith said many sheriffs were standing against the Obama administration “while the U.S. Conference of Mayors caved.”
Clarke said that if Johnson really wanted to help, he would step up and do the hard work of leadership.
“If he were a leader, he would go to his boss – and I know this is tough sometimes – but he would go to the president and say, ‘Sir, all these things I’ve listed here are things I need to continue for our homeland security here at these local areas.’
“The other thing Jeh Johnson could do is go to his boss and say, ‘Sir, homeland security and national security may be threatened under this continuing resolution, and my recommendation for you would be to go to the Senate Democrats and tell them to end their filibuster and work with the Republican Congress.
“That would be leadership, and that’s a hard thing to do, go to your boss. But I am in leadership, and I would want someone to come to me and say, ‘Sir, I just want to let you know that public safety is going to be imperiled,’ and then I ultimately get to make the decision,” Clark said. “But if Jeh Johnson doesn’t have that relationship with his boss, I find that problematic. Give him the straight scoop so he can make an intelligent decision and not one based on politics.”
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