Washington (CNN)Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Monday that his fellow governors got a wake up call this weekend when they realized how a Department of Homeland Security shutdown would impact their states.
McAuliffe: DHS shutdown consequences 'eye-opening'
McAuliffe, a Democrat and the party's former chairman, said he urged fellow governors during this weekend's National Governors Association summit to call members of their state's congressional delegation and lobby them to fund the Department of Homeland Security this week. The agency's funding runs out Friday and governors will lose matching federal grants that help fund state and local law enforcement and emergency services agencies -- that revelation, McAuliffe said, was "eye-opening."
Mississippi's Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has already phoned his state's members of Congress -- all but one are Republicans -- to press them to fund the Department of Homeland Security without a touching President Barack Obama's controversial executive action on immigration, McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe, vice chair of the National Governs Association's homeland security committee, called DHS funding an issue that "affects all 50 governors" and said he's asked governors to sign a letter urging Congress to pass a so-called 'clean' funding bill.
"They've got to stop the partisan politics," McAuliffe said of Congress. "You cannot connect this immigration issue to funding of an agency which is responsible for the protection of the homeland."
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson drove home that message this weekend, telling governors at the National Governors Association meeting that a DHS shutdown would also cut off the spigot of grant money to state and local agencies.
And in an email to staff Monday, Johnson said he continues to "make our case to Congress, the press and the public" and remains "optimistic" that Congress will fund the Department by Friday. He said DHS leaders are planning in case the Department shuts down Friday night.
"I remain optimistic that Congress will fully fund our Department before the deadline through a clean bill. But, we must be prudent. We must plan and prepare in the unlikely and unfortunate event that Congress does not fund DHS before Friday night," Johnson said in the email obtained by CNN.
House Republicans passed a bill earlier this month to fund the agency, but are refusing to strip away a provision that would repeal Obama's immigration orders, a provisions Democrats won't back. Senate Democrats are filibustering the bill, urging Republicans to pass a "clean" funding bill that doesn't touch immigration.
McAuliffe said Republicans shouldn't make funding for the homeland security agency a "partisan" issue and said Republicans will carry the blame if Congress doesn't pass a funding bill by the end of the week.
"It is the Republicans in Congress who are causing this problem," McAuliffe said. "I don't want this to be partisan. Have a debate on immigration, but never, never should you stop funding to the department of homeland security."
"Do it as a standalone issue, but do not hold a government agency hostage," he added.
McAuliffe said he's hoping his fellow governors sign the letter urging passage of a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.
But even if they don't, McAuliffe said he hopes governors will take action to get the agency funded.
"What's more important to me -- letters are letters. Go back and what I kept stressing this weekend is talk to your members of Congress," McAuliffe said.