Mar 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: GOP candidate wants to ax Homeland Security agency

Tim Sheehy, founder and chief executive officer of Bridger Aerospace and US Republican Senate candidate for Montana, at his Bridger office in Bozeman, Montana, US, on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.

Tim Sheehy at his office in Bozeman, Montana. Louise Johns/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republican Montana Senate candidate Tim Sheehy has repeatedly told supporters he would support getting rid of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency tasked with border security, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Dismantling DHS would be a major turn away from the post-9/11 reorganization of the federal government, even as Republicans call for a crackdown at the southern border.

  • Republicans leaders in Congress this week touted the increased funding to DHS for border enforcement and security as part of a long-awaited government funding agreement.
  • Sheehy has told supporters on at least three occasions that he supports getting rid of DHS, according to audio obtained by Axios.
  • His campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The big picture: Republicans in Congress killed a bipartisan border bill this year after former President Trump came out against it — part of a GOP trend of turning away from federal agencies while also demanding stricter border enforcement.

  • But they have been unclear in arguing which entity is best suited to deal with border security if funding to DHS was cut or the agency was eliminated.
  • Before the creation of DHS in 2003, border patrol and immigration services were handled federally under the Department of Justice.

Driving the news: Sheehy told supporters at an August luncheon in Kalispell, Montana, that the agency could go, arguing it is "anything but homeland security."

  • He made similar remarks at a meet-and-greet the same month in Glasgow, Montana, arguing DHS can "go away."
  • He said the same thing in September in Superior, Montana, saying DHS is "not needed."

Yes, but: Some conservatives have taken to the idea of defunding or getting rid of DHS.

  • Even recently House conservatives like Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) have demanded that Congress defund the agency unless the Biden administration makes policy changes.
  • Sheehy in the audio did not explain to supporters how federal border and airport security operations would be affected by such a move. Sheehy's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
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