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East County News Service

February 24, 2015 (Washington D.C.)--The Department of Homeland Security is set to shut down if Congress doesn’t pass a funding bill by Friday. The White House says it is preparing for a potential shut down starting this weekend, the Washington Post reports.

Republicans who control the Senate have repeatedly refused to allow a vote on a funding bill for Homeland Security unless it also contains language to repeal the immigration reforms that President Obama issued by executive order. Republicans claim these reforms are unconstitutional. Senate Democrats have filibustered to block repeal of the immigration measures, with some Democratic leaders accusing Republicans of playing Russian roulette with national security.

But on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he will allow votes later this week on a separate bill to repeal a portion of the immigration measures, separating it out from the critical Homeland Security funding.

Homeland Security includes agencies ranging from Customs and Border Patrol to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, as well as the Secret Service and Transportation Security Administration, or TSA.

Some critical workers would be asked to stay on the job without pay if a shutdown occurs.

The shutdown threats comes as Islamic State or ISIL terrorists have issued a veiled threat against the Mall of America in Minnesota and tweeted images of an Islamic State flag flying over the White House.

Democratic Congressman Steve Israel of New York, the target of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, says a shutdown would be “one of the dumbest things they can do, and it’s also one of the most dangerous things they can do.”

Some Republicans agreed. Senator John McCain of Arizona, a former Republican presidential candidate,  stated adamantly Monday night that “We cannot shut down the Department of Homeland Security.”

The President’s immigration reforms, which would protect an estimated 4 million family members of legal residents from deportation, are currently in legal limbo.  A Texas judge has blocked Obama’s orders until a lawsuit filed by over two dozen states works its way through the courts.

But the Obama administration has asked that judge to lift his stay and has also announced it will appeal the ruling to the 5th circuit court of appeals.

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