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Minnesota Congressman Breaks Party Ranks Over DHS Funding

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Freshman Congressman Tom Emmer is making headlines for criticizing fellow Republicans for their role in a possible shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.

Right now the shutdown is scheduled to happen Friday. The funding is tied up in a dispute over the Presidents immigration plan.

Emmer says it's wrong of conservatives to not support Homeland Security funding because of the immigration issue. His stand is a surprise to some who remember his run for Governor in 2010 when he ran as a strong conservative.

If you ask Emmer he says no -- but his willingness to take on conservative leaders shows his willingness to chart his own path. It's also an indication of how much pressure the Mall of America and other terror threats have put on Republicans.

When Emmer ran for Governor in 2010, conservative icon Newt Gingrich campaigned for him -- and when he won the seat vacated by Rep. Michele Bachmann, a lot of people thought he would follow in their path.

But with Conservatives insisting that Homeland Security funding be used to pressure the White House on immigration, Emmer is breaking ranks.

"The president did overreach with his executive action, but two wrongs don't make a right," Emmer said

Emmer says his Republican colleagues are jeopardizing public safety for political gain.

"I am very disappointed with the so called strategy," he said. "You don't leverage the safety of American citizens, especially when you come from a state that has the Mall of America."

Professor David Schultz, who has known Emmer for two decades, says he has always had an independent streak.

"I think Congressman Emmer is trying to tell other Republicans put a break on this especially if you want to run for reelection and successfully run for the Presidency in 2016," Schultz said.

Schultz says Emmer's stand is a sign of the enormity of concern in Minnesota over not just the Mall of America threat, but ongoing terror recruitment.

"I think the debate over whether Homeland Security is funded is even more heightened here than in some parts of the country," Schultz said.

Emmer says he believes the President's immigration plan is wrong, too, but he wants to leave homeland security out of it.

With the deadline four days away, it's not clear if some kind of funding deal can be reached before a shutdown happens Friday.

In a recent statement Congressman John Kline said he shares Emmer's views.

"While I remain committed to fighting the President's egregious overreach and disregard for the Constitutional limits of his office, the safety of Minnesotans and all Americans is not a bargaining chip. Congress has a responsibility to fund our government and defend our homeland, and the recent threat made to the Mall of America underscores the real dangers Islamist terrorists pose to our nation and communities. I stand with Tom and my colleagues in support of legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security."

Congressman Erik Paulsen has repeatedly said he supports standalone funding for Homeland Security.

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