Westerners who prolonged the shutdown showdown

Congress narrowly averted shutting down the Department of Homeland Security, no thanks to these reps.


Playing chicken with shutdown is an increasingly popular pastime in Washington, D.C. In the last few weeks, Congress once again flirted with a lapse in funding, this time for the Department of Homeland Security. 

On Tuesday afternoon, after a close call last week, the House passed a bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year. The bill, which passed the Senate last week, is now headed for President Obama’s desk. Thus ends the latest game of chicken.

Still, there were still 167 House Republicans who weren’t ready for the game to end. Most of the support for the bill that ended the standoff came from minority Democrats. Just 75 Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Of those who wouldn’t swerve, 25 came from Western states, including states that would have seen real impacts from a Homeland Security shutdown.

Despite its image as a post-9/11 agency devoted to fighting terrorism, Homeland Security acts as an umbrella for many domestic agencies, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the U.S. Coast Guard. So a lapse would have curtailed many of its lesser-known activities, as well. This includes fisheries work, research and disaster preparedness.

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s a quick look at who opposed the bill and what the impacts on their states would have been, had the Department of Homeland Security shut down:

  • Five House representatives from California and two from Washington state opposed the bill. Residents in those states would have seen fewer Coast Guard patrols. Without a new budget, the Coast Guard would have to cut back its routine enforcement patrols, fisheries policing and recreational boater safety work. 
  • Steve Pearce, of New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, also joined the opposition. His district includes the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico, where U.S. border patrol officers, tribal police, and federal air marshals receive training. The training center would have been forced to cease activities under a shutdown.
  • Four of Arizona’s nine House representatives voted against the bill. Arizona, along with New Mexico, California and Texas, would have seen longer wait times at border crossings, International Business Times reports. Among those who would have been impacted were roughly 1,500 truck drivers per day in Nogales, Arizona, who bring crops from Mexico; 450 students who travel from Mexico to attend the University of Texas, El Paso; and U.S. merchants who depend on business from Mexican shoppers.
  • Three of Colorado’s representatives cast votes against Tuesday’s bill. Like many states, Colorado gets disaster preparedness funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which would have been temporarily suspended in a shutdown. Those funds go towards a variety of activities, including firefighters’ oxygen tanks in Denver.

Ironically, one thing a potential shutdown wouldn’t have touched is the agency charged with overseeing Obama’s immigration reforms and the target of Republican objections. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees citizenship applications and immigration benefits, gets most of its funding from applicant fees. A lapse in federal funds would barely have slowed its operations. Just 352 employees would have been furloughed, out of more than 13,000.

Below is a full list of those Western representatives who voted against the breakthrough bill:

Ryan Zinke, Montana At-Large

Don Young, Alaska At-Large

Scott Tipton, Colorado 3rd District

Dana Rohrabacher, California 48th District

Doug Lamborn, Colorado 5th District

Ken Buck, Colorado 4th District

Chris Stewart, Utah 2nd District

Mia Love, Utah 4th District

Jason Chaffetz, Utah 3rd District

Rob Bishop, Utah 1st District

David Schweikert, Arizona 6th District

Matt Salmon, Arizona 5th District

Paul Gosar, Arizona 4th District

Trent Franks, Arizona 8th District

Steve Pearce, New Mexico 2nd District

Dan Newhouse, Washington 4th District

Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington 3rd District

Tom McClintock, California 4th District

Doug LaMalfa, California 1st District

Darrell Issa, California 49th District

Duncan Hunter, California 50th District

Paul Cook, California 8th District

Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming At-Large

Raul Labrador, Idaho 1st District

Mark Amodei, Nevada 2nd District


Kate Schimel is an editorial intern at High Country News. Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that a majority of Colorado representatives cast votes against the bill, but it was in fact three, not four, Colorado representatives. 

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