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  • Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Mitch McConnell

    Posted on 2015-02-03

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    Read More about Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015--Motion to Proceed

    McCONNELL. Mr. President, I move to proceed to H.R. 240.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.

    The legislative clerk read as follows: Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 5, H.R. 240, a bill making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year beginning September 30, 2015, and for other purposes.

    Measures Placed On The Calendar--S. 338 And S. 339 Mr. McCONNELL. I understand there are two bills at the desk due for a second reading.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will read the bills by title for the second time.

    The legislative clerk read as follows: A bill (S. 338) to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

    A bill (S. 339) to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 entirely.

    Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, in order to place the bills on the calendar under the provisions of rule XIV, I object to further proceedings en bloc.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

    The bills will be placed on the calendar.

    SCHEDULE Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, at noon today the Senate will vote on passage of H.R. 203, the bipartisan veterans suicide prevention bill. Following the recess for the weekly party lunches, we will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 240, a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

    Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention For American Veterans Act Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, following last week's bipartisan vote for American jobs, the new Republican Congress will vote to send the President another bipartisan bill today. It is legislation that already passed the House of Representatives unanimously, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.

    This bill would offer critical support to the men and women who have already sacrificed so much for all of us. It would extend a helping hand to heroes when they need it. It is just the kind of commonsense bipartisan action the new Congress can deliver for the American people.

    Let me recognize once more the great work of Senators Isakson and McCain on this bill. I hope our colleagues across the aisle will help us pass this legislation today with strong bipartisan support.

    Department Of Homeland Security Funding Mr. President, when the new Senate convened, I stated my view that democracy is not about what you can get away with, it is about what can be achieved together. Exercising raw power is easier, no question about that. Changing the rules of democracy when they do not suit you can be pretty tempting to politicians. But we are hoping our colleagues in the Democratic Party will agree that elected leaders can be bigger than that. We are hoping Democrats will agree that it is on Presidents to consider the long-term consequences of partisan power grabs and to rise above the kinds of partisan temptations that tend to emerge.

    The choices Democrats make on the legislation before us will say a lot about whether there are still two serious political parties in our country, whether there are still two parties interested in governing within a constitutional framework.

    At its core, the debate is about whether Democrats think Presidents of either party should have the power to simply do what they want. While this is about more than just President Obama, it is also true that President Obama has repeatedly reached beyond his authority.

    [[Page S708]] Some of the President's overreach has been so out of bounds that the Supreme Court struck it down unanimously. Whether on the left, right, or center, every last Justice--even those appointed by the President-- rebuked him for his overreach on recess appointments last June. Then just a couple of months ago the President rebuked himself by taking actions he had previously said many times that he lacked the legal authority to take. When he tried to suggest otherwise, a fact-checker blasted the spin and clarified that the President had been asked specifically about just the sorts of actions he was contemplating.

    Last year President Obama declared that executive action was ``not an option'' because it would mean ``ignoring the law.'' ``There is a path to get this done,'' the President said, ``and that is through Congress.'' That was his view then. What changed? What changed? The truth is, the latest power grab is not really about immigration reform. It is about making an already broken system even more broken. It is about imposing even more unfairness on immigrants who have already worked so hard and played by the rules. It is hard to understand why the President would want to impose additional unfairness on immigrants like these who just want to live their own American dream.

    The question is, Do Democrats agree with the President? Well, we will soon find out. We will also find out if Democrats agree with President Obama who ignores the law when it suits him or if they agree with President Obama who made this statement just a few years ago in Miami. Here is what he said in Miami just a couple of years ago.

    The President: Democracy is hard, but it's right. [And] changing our laws means doing the hard work of changing minds and changing votes one by one.

    That is the President a couple of years ago.

    So I am calling on Democrats to vote with us now to fund the Department of Homeland Security. I am calling on Democrats to join us and stand up for core democratic principles such as the rule of law and separation of powers.

    Recognition Of The Minority Leader The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.

    Loretta Lynch Nomination Mr. REID. Mr. President, the record held by the Republicans dealing with Cabinet officers is not one they should be proud of. For example, during a time of the War on Terror, the Republicans held up the Defense Department's nominee for a historically long time. Never in the past had someone who was to be Defense Secretary been held up by being blocked from moving forward.

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