"In January, all the world was alarmed at what happened in Paris, and everyone was concerned about homeland security—in the country and, really, throughout the world," Pelosi said at the same presser. "You would think Paris would have given them some additional motivation to pass a clean Homeland Security bill, but not so."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer had a similar message. "They've chosen to threaten national security by holding our Homeland Security budget hostage," he said.
"We've had three major international attacks since that—in Canada, in France, in Belgium. Three major attacks since that bill. So saying that things are like they were before is not accurate."
Other Democrats went further, saying Republicans have forgotten the lessons of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "What a different mind-set we had after 9/11," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, also taking the stage Tuesday with her Democratic colleagues. "We had a sense of responsibility and overcoming fear."
"If Republicans are serious about border security and homeland security, then they have to demonstrate that with actions, and one of the biggest ways to do that is to fund the agencies that are trying to provide homeland security," Rep. Jim Langevin, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said Wednesday. "It's important to note when the effort or the votes don't match the rhetoric."
In reality, more than 85 percent of DHS employees—those deemed "essential" to the agency's mission—would remain on the job even if Congress fails to pass a new funding bill by Feb. 27. Those workers who show up would be denied their pay until a bill finally passed, and no one's arguing that furloughing even the "nonessential" workers is a good idea. But it's unclear that a funding lapse would put the country's security in jeopardy.
Of course, Republicans counter that any funding lapse—and subsequent danger—will be on the heads of Democrats who oppose their bill to protect Obama's policies. "The House has done its duty," said Sen. Jeff Sessions. "It has funded Homeland Security with $40 billion in funding, and it just simply says the president can't take money that was authorized, appropriated to enforce law, to undermine law. If there is any problem with funding Homeland Security, it is a direct result of Democrats' obstruction."
And in the House, Speaker John Boehner and Hill allies are putting the blame on the 46 Senate Democrats who have halted the bill's progress there.
"They should pass the bill, which funds a very vital national security agency but also turns back this blanket amnesty, which is illegal and unconstitutional," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers said. "We think that the vote to bring the bill up on the Senate floor, that motion to proceed, should pass. Anyone who votes against the motion to proceed to fund the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and all of the security agencies that is in that bill, that vote is critical, and I think people will pay attention to it."