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Arizona congressman: Blame possible DHS shutdown on Democrats

PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman said the blame rests with Senate Democrats should Congress fail to keep the lights on at the Department of Homeland Security.

“Even if these senators have a problem with this, be courageous and have enough backbone to strip those things out,” U.S. Congressman Matt Salmon (R-Arizona) said. “That’s how the process works. But to not even let the bill come to the floor? That’s not doing their job. If this government shuts down then it is squarely on their (Democrats’) backs.”

A House-passed bill would cover the department through September, but would overturn President Barack Obama’s executive action to limit deportations for millions of illegal immigrants.

Obama said the impending shutdown would have a direct impact on states’ economies.

“They all work in your states,” he said. “These are folks who, if they don’t have a paycheck, are not going to be able to spend that money in your states.”

Homeland Security has approximately 230,000 employees operating on $40 billion annually. Some estimates said 200,000 of them could keep working without a paycheck even if Congress can’t come up with a budget solution by Friday.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned on Sunday that the possible shutdown threatens to hamstring U.S. response to terrorist threats and warnings, such as the one late Saturday that mentioned the Mall of America in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.