As a potential government shutdown looms on Sunday, House Republicans are taking steps to ensure that agents from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) receive their salaries even if the shutdown materializes.
The proposed “Homeland Heroes Pay Act” is designed to guarantee ongoing payment for select federal agents in the event that the homeland security funding bill isn’t finalized in time by Congress.
Chairman of Homeland Security, Mark Green from Tennessee, expressed concern on Friday, stating that CBP and ICE officials shouldn’t bear the brunt of Congress’s inability to agree on border security funding. He emphasized the importance of safeguarding the earnings of those addressing the severe challenges at the border, especially if there’s a disruption in government finances, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
This proposed legislation stipulates that CBP agents handling essential operations at or between any of the main border entry points will still be compensated during a shutdown. Their core responsibilities involve blocking the entry of potential terrorists, unauthorized migrants, weapons, illegal goods, and prohibited drugs into the country.
Similarly, ICE agents in charge of immigration oversight or investigations into illicit activities, including drug trafficking and human smuggling, will be included in the bill’s protective provisions.
During government shutdowns, while key staff remain on duty, their salaries are typically held back until the next fiscal year’s budget is approved by Congress.
According to the Examiner, the bill garnered support from multiple representatives, including Clay Higgins from Louisiana, Michael McCaul from Texas, and others such as Laurel Lee from Florida, Dale Strong from Alabama, Monica De La Cruz from Texas, and Juan Ciscomani from Arizona.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s last-minute strategy to avoid a federal shutdown faced obstacles when some staunch Republicans declined to back the financial proposal, making a shutdown seem more likely. Even with proposed spending reductions of approximately 30% and rigorous border security measures, the bill failed to gain unanimous support within the party.
With the deadline to secure government funding rapidly drawing closer on Saturday, there seems to be limited alternatives to sidestep a shutdown.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the Senate was said to be advancing its own mutual agreement to keep the government functional, which also proposes support for Ukraine and domestic disaster relief funds.