WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is unable to hire new Secret Service agents for the upcoming 2016 presidential election because it lacks funds, and the continuing resolution that keeps the department funded at 2014 budget levels expires in nine days, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Wednesday.
"As long as we're on a CR [continuing resolution], we're restrained to last year's spending levels and we're unable to engage in new starts, new initiatives for spending," Johnson said. “We're unable to do some of the things that the Secret Service, independent panel has recommended for the Secret Service, we're unable to hire for upcoming presidential elections cycle.”
The funding for DHS will expire at the end of February, leaving the department’s non-essential employees without pay.
The US House of Representatives introduced a $39.7 billion appropriations bill for the DHS earlier in January, but it included a Republican-sponsored amendment to withhold funding for any of the president’s executive actions on immigration.
President Obama said he will veto any bill that does not fully fund DHS, turning the issue into a brewing political battle between his administration and the Republican-controlled Congress.