President Barack Obama warned governors on Monday that a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security would have a “direct impact” on their states.
“They all work in your states,” Obama said of the 200,000 Homeland Security employees who would not receive paychecks if Congress fails to reach a deal to fund the department before Saturday.
“These are folks that, if they don’t have a paycheck, are not going to be able to spend that money in your states. It will have a direct impact on your economy and it will have a direct impact on America’s national security because their hard work helps to keep us safe,” he told the National Governors Association at its winter meeting.
Republicans in Congress have voted to fund Homeland Security with legislation that guts the president’s executive actions that could allow millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally. Democrats in the Senate refuse to advance the bill, and a stalemate remains with just days to go before DHS runs out of funding.
Republican governors, including those who are eyeing presidential runs, have blamed Obama for the budget standoff taking place as ISIS expands its hold beyond the Middle East.
The president said governors know “we can’t afford to play politics with our national security,” while also giving a nod to Republicans like Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who are mulling White House bids.
“I'm in the fourth quarter of my presidency, or as some of you might call it -- the kickoff of your campaign season,” Obama joked.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson held a press conference Monday warning of the impacts of the a lapse in funding.
“Every governor, mayor, police chief, sheriff and police commissioner should be concerned about this," Johnson warned.
-- Andrew Rafferty