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Stabenow: Tying immigration reform and homeland security funding “pretty reckless”

Feb 16, 2015

Credit USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is worried about a potential shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.

“I am very concerned and actually quite shocked that it’s gotten to this point,” Stabenow said during a visit to St. Joseph Monday morning.

Congress has a little more than a week to vote on a bill to fund the department.

It has stalled because some Republicans are using the bill to try to end a program that allows people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to get work permits.

Stabenow says tying the two issues together is “pretty reckless,” particularly considering the heightened threat from terrorists groups like the self-declared Islamic State.

“We have terror threats all around us and yet the Republicans who are in charge now are basically playing politics with homeland security money,” she said.

If no agreement is reached, essential employees at DHS, like TSA agents and border patrol officers would remain on the job, but without pay.

Stabenow says lawmakers need to find a way to come together and show support for U.S. air strikes targeting ISIS in Syria. But she stopped short of saying she’d vote in favor of the air strikes, which have been going on for months without congressional support.

“For me it’s about how do we do this in the smartest, most targeted way and I’m spending time working through it,” she said.

Stabenow says it’s important the U.S. not go-it-alone against ISIS, saying she’s encouraged more countries in the Middle East are willing to target the group. 

Senator Gary Peters told Michigan Radio last week President Obama should have asked sooner for congressional support for the air strikes.