Yesterday was not a good day to be a Republican ! But how did those of us concerned with homeland security fare ?
There are three things to look at here. One the Democrats took the U. S. House, BIG ! The Senate as I write this is hanging in the balance waiting on the results of two very tight races, best case the Republican Majority will loose strength. More Democratic governors, a lot more. This is important because governors control national guard and state defense forces units. Governors also have a lot to say about how “pass through" grants are distributed. In most states they are also very involved at setting budget and law enforcement priorities.
I’ still digesting yesterday's results but here are my opening thoughts.
1) Rumsfeld is gone. I had said before the election that this would probably happen anyway. The newly emboldened Democratic leadership will insist on it. Look for the administration to find a graceful exit for the secretary of defense.
2) Shifts in Funding. Tax and spending bills according to the U. S. Constitution must begin in the house. Democrats as a rule look to shift money away from national security, law enforcement, and homeland security to social programs. Expect to fight for every penny of every allocation. We'll be very lucky to see any funding increases anywhere. One place this will hurt us badly is the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard's Deepwater Initiative has never been funded as it should be. In fact Deepwater funds have been raided just to keep the existing fleet of ships and aircraft going. This is the problem. The Coast Guard's cutter and aircraft fleets are old and falling apart. Spare parts are getting next to impossible to find. Deepwater is just one glaring example of what's at stake here.
3)Immigration Policy- I expect that immigration policy over the next two or three years will trend toward “amnesty", and away from enforcement. Amnesty has been tried and has failed repeatedly in the past, and I don't expect it will succeed this time.
4) Appointment confirmations- These will get tougher. Even if the Republicans manage to hold on to a slim senate majority, I expect the two independents to side with the democrats most of the time. The administration will need to be much more open minded in their choices.
5) Iraq The Democrats will push hard for a firm timetable for withdrawl from Iraq. This would be a major mistake for too many reasons to go into here. My fear is they will get it.
On balance I think yesterday was a very bad day for those concerned with homeland security. One of the major themes that brought the Democrats this victory was their promise of a change in policy toward Iraq. I expect that they will force a premature withdrawl from Iraq, which will likely lead to a collapse of that country's infant government. I don't even want to think about how many years, and lives will be lost in that mess. I keep saying that sometimes it would be nice to be wrong. This is one of those times. Come on Democrats ! Make me eat my words, please !
Robert A. Crutchfield is editor of Homeland Security HQ (http://www.homelandsecurityhq.us ) He is a graduate of the Professional Development Series at the National Emergency Management Institute. He has also completed the Critical Infastructure: Vulnerability Analysis Course at the Naval Postgraduate School Ceneter for Homeland Defense and Security. He has served on the advisory board of Defense of Houston since 2001.
Crutchfield also served as Chairman of the Republican Party for the Sixth State Senate District of Texas. He has been a member of numerous convention committees at the senate district and state level. He is a life member of the Republican National Committee, and the Navy League of the United States.