MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Just days after a terror threat against the Mall of America, a partisan standoff in Washington threatens to shut down the Department of Homeland Security.
This shutdown had been looming for over a month. The funding for Homeland Security is tied up in a partisan fight over the president’s immigration plan.
A compromise has not been worked out as of early Tuesday night, and it’s not clear if lawmakers will be able to prevent the department from shutting down this Friday.
“This is a time when we should be stepping up our security, not stepping down our security,” Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.
If a shutdown happens, 15 percent of TSA employees will be furloughed.
Law enforcement officers, TSA agents and Border Patrol agents will remain on the job, but they won’t get paid.
Within hours of the threat, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said his agency was monitoring the response.
Now there is concern that during a shutdown, the department’s ability to respond quickly to new threats will be affected.
Bloomington police said that while they do receive Homeland Security funding, a shutdown will not affect staffing.
“Citizens will not see an impact on quality of services or response times,” Deputy Chief Kevin Hart said.
A shutdown could affect passengers at Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport
The Metropolitan Airports Commission said that during the government shutdown two years ago, TSA agents working without a paycheck refused overtime. The result was longer security lines.
Both sides agree this latest threat is adding pressure to reach a deal.
The standoff began because Republicans were furious over the president’s immigration plan.
Now Republicans are deeply divided about what to do next.
Minnesota Republican Rep. Eric Paulsen, whose district includes the Mall of America, said he would vote for a compromise, including a standalone funding bill that would keep funding for the Department of Homeland Security separate from the immigration issue.
“I will consider any bill the Senate is able to pass that keeps the department operating,” Paulsen said.
A shutdown would almost certainly be unpopular with the public and deliver a message neither side wants to be blamed for.
“Now is the time to pass this bill,” Klobuchar said, “not to send a message to Al Shabab that we are going to shut down Homeland Security.”
Officials at the Mall of America declined to comment.
Minnesota does get about $16 million a year in grants from the Department of Homeland Security.
That money will not be affected.