Homeland Security chief: Budget impasse could harm states

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Homeland Security chief: Budget impasse could harm states
FILE - In this July 25, 2013 file photo, Alejandro Mayorkas, then-President Obama's nominee to become deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. A new inspector general’s report has concluded that Mayorkas, now the No. 2 official at the Homeland Security Department improperly intervened on behalf of foreign investors. It happened in three cases involving the U.S. government soliciting foreign investments in exchange for American visas. Investigators said Tuesday that his involvement created the appearance of favoritism and special access. The investigation could not suggest a motive for his involvement. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Alejandro Mayorkas, President Obama's nominee to become deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 25, 2013, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on his nomination. Mayorkas strongly denied allegations that he had helped a politically connected company obtain a foreign investor visa, as his nomination got a White House vote of confidence. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Joseph Clancy, director of the U.S. Secret Service, listens during a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Clancy said it's unacceptable that it took five days for him to learn of allegations of misconduct involving two agents. The episode, under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, follows a series of lapses by agents that brought new leadership to the agency, along with scrutiny from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Joseph Clancy, director of the U.S. Secret Service, speaks during a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Clancy said it's unacceptable that it took five days for him to learn of allegations of misconduct involving two agents. The episode, under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, follows a series of lapses by agents that brought new leadership to the agency, along with scrutiny from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, questions Joseph Clancy, director of the U.S. Secret Service, not pictured, during a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Clancy said it's unacceptable that it took five days for him to learn of allegations of misconduct involving two agents. The episode, under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, follows a series of lapses by agents that brought new leadership to the agency, along with scrutiny from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, makes an opening statement during a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing with Joseph Clancy, director of the U.S. Secret Service, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Clancy said it's unacceptable that it took five days for him to learn of allegations of misconduct involving two agents. The episode, under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, follows a series of lapses by agents that brought new leadership to the agency, along with scrutiny from lawmakers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson speaks about the agency's budget and cybersecurity at the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee session during the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Several Republican governors are urging GOP congressional leaders to stand firm next week in opposing legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security if it doesn't also overturn President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
President Barack Obama pauses as he delivers remarks at the Department of Homeland Security on his FY2016 budget proposal, on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Washington. Obama warned congressional Republicans Monday that he won't accept a spending plan that boosts national security at the expense of domestic programs for the middle class. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson speaks with Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee Vice Chair Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe during the committee's session on cyber security during the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Several Republican governors are urging GOP congressional leaders to stand firm next week in opposing legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security if it doesn't also overturn President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, right, is greeted by Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee Vice Chair Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, during the committee's session on cybersecurity at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Several Republican governors are urging GOP congressional leaders to stand firm next week in opposing legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security if it doesn't also overturn President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, chair, Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee and Army Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, commander, Army Cyber Command, participate in the committee's session on cybersecurity during the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, during the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 18: Vilvoorde, Belgium, Mayor Hans Bonte participates in a panel discussion during the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building February 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. In the wake of last month's slaughter of journalists and police officers in Paris by Muslim extremists, Hidalgo said Paris plans to sue Fox News for 'inaccurate reports' about Muslim 'no-go areas.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Acting director of the Secret Service Joseph Clancy shakes hands with President Barack Obama at Department of Homeland Security after Obama delivered remarks on his FY2016 budget proposal, on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Washington. Obama warned congressional Republicans Monday that he won't accept a spending plan that boosts national security at the expense of domestic programs for the middle class. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, walk towards the podium to answers questions from reporters following their weekly policy luncheon, at the Capital in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. In the Senate, Democrats had more than enough votes to block action on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security and overturn presidential executive orders that have spared an estimated four million immigrants in the country illegally from the threat of deportation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is led into the Senate Chamber after addressing the media in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, February 3, 2015. In the Senate, Democrats had more than enough votes to block action on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security and overturn presidential executive orders that have spared an estimated four million immigrants in the country illegally from the threat of deportation. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., listens after addressing the media in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, February 3, 2015. In the Senate, Democrats had more than enough votes to block action on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security and overturn presidential executive orders that have spared an estimated four million immigrants in the country illegally from the threat of deportation. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 03: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus talks to a reporter after attending the weekly Republican Senate policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol February 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats filibustered the legislation to fund the Homeland Security Department because it included a measure to roll back President Obama's executive order on immigration. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - FEBRUARY 02: US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference at the Department of Homeland Security about his newly revealed budget and Republicans threat to not approve funding for the agency in Washington, D.C. on February 02, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An employee sits at his computer terminal within the National Operations Center (NOC) at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC, February 2, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on his Fiscal Year 2016 Budget at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Feb. 2, 2015. Obama sent Congress a $4 trillion budget that would raise taxes on corporations and the nation's top earners, spend more on infrastructure and housing, and stabilize, but not eliminate, the annual budget deficit. Photographer: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Pool via Bloomberg
WASHINGTON, USA - FEBRUARY 02: US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference at the Department of Homeland Security about his newly revealed budget and Republicans threat to not approve funding for the agency in Washington, D.C. on February 02, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson walks on Capitol Hill February 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is warning states that the possible shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security would harm the nation's ability to counter the extremist appeal of the Islamic State group within the U.S. and help communities struggling with an onslaught of winter snowstorms.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said if Congress fails to agree to a new budget for his department by the end of Friday, inaction by lawmakers would lead to staff furloughs that could harm the U.S. response to terrorist threats and warnings, such as the one late Saturday that names Minnesota's Mall of America.

He estimated that up to 30,000 DHS workers would need to be furloughed, including up to 80 percent of Federal Emergency Management Agency workers even as that agency contends with two months of devastating snowfall and cold from New England to the Mountain States.

"If we are going to shut down, we are greatly compromised," Johnson said during a briefing at the National Governors Association, an annual gathering attended by dozens of the nation's governors.

Congress was returning to work on Monday, just days before funding for DHS' $40 billion budget ends. Lawmakers have until the end of the week to approve the budget and avoid shutting down the department, but no clear solution is in sight.

"The House has acted to fund the Homeland Security Department," Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said in an email on Sunday. "Now it's time for Senate Democrats to stop blocking legislation that would do the same."

A House-passed bill would cover the department through Sept. 30 and overturn President Barack Obama's executive action to limit deportations for millions of immigrants in the United States illegally. But Senate Democrats are preventing a vote on a similar Senate measure.

The issue was further complicated last week when a federal district court judge in Texas temporarily blocked the administration's plans to protect immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents from deportation. The decision came as part of a lawsuit filed by 26 states arguing that the president had overstepped his authority in taking the executive action. Johnson said the administration will appeal the ruling.

During a meeting with governors, Johnson was pressed by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican and former top DHS official under President George W. Bush, on whether the administration would seek to "resolve this disagreement on policy" regarding the immigration executive actions.

Johnson said Congress should debate the immigration dispute but said lawmakers should not "tie that to the entire budget" of his department.

Two prominent Republican senators agreed with Johnson. South Carolina's Lindsey Graham and Arizona's John McCain said on Sunday they would oppose such a linkage. Graham said he was "willing and ready to pass a DHS funding bill and let this play out in court."

Of Homeland Security's approximately 230,000 employees, some 200,000 of them would keep working even if Congress fails to fund their agency. They would receive no pay, however, until Congress authorizes funding.

"You should not be defunding the agency that is in charge of protecting the homeland. What kind of message does that send?" said Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, where more than 17,000 DHS employees live.

The DHS funding dispute has parallels to 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.

Johnson linked the purported Mall of America warning from the Africa-based al-Shabab terror group and other recent terror alerts to what he described as a "new phase" of challenges by extremist groups abroad that have used alarming Internet videos and social media to gain adherents in the U.S. and potentially prod some to action.

He said the U.S. and foreign allies have made progress in tracking thousands of Americans and Europeans who have streamed abroad to join IS and other militant fighters inside Syria. But he said Western countries still need to build better systems to track individuals under suspicion of backing IS and other groups.

Graham spoke on ABC's "This Week"; McCain spoke on CBS' "Face the Nation" and Johnson appeared on CNN's "State of the Union," ABC's "This Week," NBC's "Meet the Press," `'Fox News Sunday" and CBS' "Face the Nation."

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