Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015—Motion to Proceedby Senator Mike Lee
Posted on 2015-02-05
LEE. Madam President, Republicans in the Senate are ready to
begin debating the bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.
But in order to do that, we must first vote to proceed to the bill, and
Democrats have blocked us from doing that. They have done that yet
This is simply a procedural vote, but it is a very important procedural vote. It is a threshold vote, without which other votes cannot and will not occur.
Voting yes on a motion to proceed to this bill doesn't mean you support the bill. Regardless of which way you vote, it doesn't signal which way you lean on the underlying merits of this bill. It doesn't mean you support this or that amendment. It simply means you are willing to engage in an open, transparent, and public debate about the future of Homeland Security and about making sure the Department charged with this task is funded.
Why would our friends across the aisle be afraid of that? Some may argue that they voted against proceeding to this bill somehow because they support funding Homeland Security, but that is not true. This bill [[Page S810]] funds Homeland Security. Why then are my friends on the other side of the aisle voting against proceeding to this bill? Well, the difference that might be found is that many of them also support the President's incredibly unpopular and controversial action to grant amnesty to 5 million illegals who are here illegally inside the United States, individuals who will now be eligible for work permits and in some cases entitlement benefits. But the American people do not support that. They certainly do not support the action the President took and the way he did it. They oppose the way President Obama went around Congress. They oppose the fact that President Obama ignored the law. They oppose the damage this policy will do to American workers who are already struggling to find work and remain employed. They oppose the crisis this kind of action is creating and will continue to create at the border, as we saw last summer with so many children making that dangerous trip to get into the country and to do it the wrong way, to get here illegally.
Now that the American people have put Republicans in charge, in the majority, in the Senate, we are trying to keep our promise to them, to do what they sent us here to do, and to hold a vote on President Obama's action in this regard. But the Democrats seem to be reluctant to take that vote. They seem to not want to take it. Perhaps they are afraid of it; I do not know. Maybe that is why they refuse to even begin consideration of this bill, plain and simple. This effort to try to hide from the American people is embarrassing, and it is wrong.
My friends across the aisle may say that they have an alternative bill and that we should pass their alternative bill immediately. There are at least two problems with this approach.
First, that may have been the way the Senate functioned under the previous majority--writing bills in back rooms, waiting until the last minute to make bills public, then filling the tree, which means making it impossible for anyone to amend the bill once it gets to the floor, having virtually no debate, and then ramming the bill through without any input from the American people, without adequate debate here, without virtually any debate here. That is not the way the Senate is supposed to work. That is not the way the Senate does work and will continue to work under the Republican majority.
Second, traditionally appropriations bills do not start in the Senate. In fact, the House has not considered a Senate-originated appropriations bill for over 100 years--since at least 1901, the period for which these kinds of records are readily available. Unfortunately for them, the bill the Democrats want is not supported in the House. Why? Well, precisely because it is not supported by the American people.
It is time to stop delaying democracy. It is time to stop hiding from the American people. It is time to fund the Department of Homeland Security. It is time to have this debate and this discussion about the President's actions--actions that many people regard as unlawful, actions that people have different feelings about as far as the underlying policies but that the overwhelming majority of the American people look at and say: Look, even if I like the underlying policy here, I do not like the way the President did it.
If the President does not like the law, he needs to change the law. The way to change the law under our constitutional system is to go to Congress and to get something passed through Congress. Ours is not a government of one; ours is a government in which we have two entities within Congress that are charged with making the law. The President cannot act alone.
So my plea to my colleagues, particularly those across the aisle, is let's have a vote and then let's have a debate. When we have a vote and we have a debate, we will get to the point where we can fund the Department of Homeland Security and keep our Nation safe. We should not be keeping these important programs--we should not be holding them back simply out of a desire to protect the President and his actions that are outside the law.