Overstating Impact of Funding Stalemate

Some Democrats overstated the potential impacts of a congressional stalemate that threatens to leave the Department of Homeland Security without funding after Feb. 27.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator will be forced to “furlough something like 80 percent of his FEMA workforce” if Congress fails to pass a funding bill. Johnson did not make clear he was talking about the 4,000-plus FEMA employees who are funded through the annual appropriations process. But that ignores FEMA employees who are funded by fees and multiyear appropriations, as well as thousands of FEMA reservists who are activated during disasters.

In a report issued just prior to a government shutdown in October 2013, DHS said in the event of a funding lapse about 78 percent of FEMA’s 14,729 employees would be retained.

Likewise, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, warned that a shutdown “could close down ports up and down the East Coast.” But DHS, in that same 2013 report, said 88 percent of  Coast Guard employees were exempt from furloughs, including military members and civilian employees who are “either funded by other than annual appropriations or necessary for the protection of life and property.”

FEMA’s Workforce

Johnson made his remarks on CNN’s “State of the Union” when he was asked about the partisan standoff over the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security, whic....

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