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Brian S.
Democrat HI

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  • Department of Homeland Security Funding

    by Senator Brian Schatz

    Posted on 2015-02-04

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    SCHATZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to pass a clean Homeland Security funding bill for fiscal year 2015. This is an issue of national security, and we cannot allow politics to divert attention from our responsibility as Senators.

    The majority in the House sent the Senate a bill with five poison pills that they know will prevent the passage of this legislation. Yesterday and again today, my Senate colleagues and I sent a clear message that these politically divisive immigration provisions have no place in this bill.

    I urge my colleagues to dispense with any further delays and allow for an up-or-down vote on the bill as originally drafted.

    The Department of Homeland Security funding bill--created in the wake of 9/11, as Senator Durbin reminded us earlier--is not the place to litigate immigration policy; rather, those issues are appropriately addressed in a comprehensive immigration bill, and I hope [[Page S763]] the House will draft and vote on that type of legislation soon.

    The recent executions of the Japanese and Jordanian hostages by the terrorist group ISIL and the attacks in Paris, Ottawa, and Australia serve as reminders of the very real threat we face.

    Each day we delay in providing adequate, reliable resources to the Department of Homeland Security, we undermine the Department's efforts to defend the home front. That is why I am calling on my colleagues to take up and pass a clean bill.

    My colleagues on the Appropriations Committee Senator Shaheen and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski have introduced a clean DHS funding bill that reflects the bipartisan agreement reached between the House and Senate appropriators. This bill funds a wide range of programs that keep Americans safe and secure.

    For example, the clean version of this bill funds a host of counterterrorism, intelligence, and security functions; investments in cyber security defense technologies and personnel, investments to detect and protect against biological threats, research and development of nuclear detection technologies, TSA and Coast Guard operations to keep our skies and our waters safe. The clean version also funds $6 billion in disaster funds to help States, localities, businesses, and individuals rebuild after a natural disaster, staffing nearly 24,000 Customs and Border Protection officers who ensure legitimate travel of individuals who seek to enter the country, and staffing 20,000 Border Patrol agents who protect the 6,000 miles of our land border and 2,000 miles of coastal waters.

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary Johnson has been clear that while the Department operates under the current CR, it cannot fund key homeland security initiatives.

    A short-term CR would prevent the Department from awarding new disaster preparedness grants that support our local emergency responders. It would delay the hiring of more investigators for cases related to human trafficking and smuggling. It would also prevent the Secret Service from training for the next Presidential election, and the list goes on.

    We cannot expect DHS to do long-term strategic planning with short- term funding measures. The Department needs reliable funding to operate efficiently and effectively.

    The House majority is unfortunately playing politics with our homeland security because the President has taken an action that every President since the 1950s has taken: He has provided commonsense direction to our immigration enforcement efforts.

    The President's Executive actions on immigration are fundamentally aimed at keeping families together, making our communities safer, and using our resources efficiently. It is hard to understand how someone could oppose that.

    The President's actions will ensure that our immigration enforcement efforts are used to secure the border, prevent threats to national security, and protect public safety. These should be our top priorities, and I support those efforts, but if Members of the House take issue with them, they should draft and adopt immigration reform, just as the Senate did on a bipartisan basis 18 months ago.

    Our path forward is simple: Pass a clean funding bill. If my colleagues want to fix our broken immigration system, then let's take up a bill, but let's not use this critical funding bill to play partisan politics.

    The dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security deserve better. The American people deserve better. Let's put aside politics and let's pass a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill.

    Mr. President, I yield the floor.

    I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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