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A gridlocked Congress is on the verge of shutting down the Department of Homeland Security because Republicans are opposed to executive actions on immigration issued by the Obama White House.
Aside from the political and security implications of this political strategy, a shutdown could create problems for New England.
Here's the reason for concern: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, processes requests for disaster aid. Massachusetts is requesting disaster aid for each of the wild winter storms we've experienced. FEMA is part of Homeland Security. If DHS gets shutdown, so does FEMA.
Also, the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is set to address a joint session of Congress next week, but many Democrats, including Congressman Jim McGovern, plan to boycott.
On whether he expects a Department of Homeland Security shutdown:
Congressman Jim McGovern: "I hope we can avert that. Sen. McConnell and Sen. Reid over in the Senate seem to have come to some accommodation. The problem is Speaker Boehner and the Republicans here in the House. I don't understand why voting for a clean Department of Homeland Security bill is such a controversial thing...without the anti-immigration...I mean, in terms of the immigration issue, a federal judge has kind of put a stay on what the president announced in his executive order, so the issue that the Republicans claim to be so hot and bothered about at least is temporarily put on hold. So, I hope we can get a vote. I'm willing to stay here the weekend if that's what it takes, but shutting down the Department of Homeland Security...furloughing people or not paying people, it's just crazy. And, by the way, the Department of Homeland Security also funds a lot of the emergency snow removal efforts and emergency funding for states like ours that incurred great costs with these recent snow storms."
On what a DHS shutdown would mean for Massachusetts:
JM: "That means everything is put on hold. It slows down. The entire delegation — Sen. Warren and Sen. Markey, myself and the entire delegation, you know, had talked to the governor and we, even before the state made its request...told them that we were already talking to people over at DHS to be ready for this request and we're all supporting it. But the next question is that if they allow it to shut down, when will they reopen it? And, you know, there are some people here in the House of Representatives on the Republican side who just can't get to yes and I'm just puzzled by that. This is an important bill."
On whether he'll attend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to a joint session of Congress:
JM: "No...Look, I've given this a great deal of thought and I decided not to attend. I have been and I will continue to be a strong supporter of Israel, but the timing and the circumstances of this speech are deeply troubling. The speaker of the House, unfortunately, has made this into a partisan issue. This violates all past protocol on joint addresses to Congress. I mean, we've never had a foreign leader address a joint session of Congress so close to his own reelection campaign. The White House was cut out of this, this was not a bipartisan invitation. You know, I've urged that they delay the invitation until after the Israeli elections and until after these negotiations on Iran are completed. This is an inappropriate way for a joint session to be conducted."
This segment aired on February 26, 2015.
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