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Claire M.
Democrat MO

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  • Department of Homeland Security Funding

    by Senator Claire McCaskill

    Posted on 2015-02-03

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    McCASKILL. Mr. President, I have to say that I am a little confused about what is happening right now. The Republican Party is in charge--totally in charge of Congress. I am sure Speaker Boehner's and Majority Leader McConnell's staffs talk on a daily basis. I am sure they are talking, coordinating, and realizing the Republican Party now has the responsibility of showing this country they can run Congress.

    So what do we do right out of the gate? We threaten to shut down the Department of our government that protects our homeland while ISIS is burning prisoners alive on film? The irony of this is Republicans are in charge. All they have to do is present a clean funding bill for Homeland Security, and the very next day take up immigration reform and debate it. But they are trying to play a political trick and trying to make it look as if somehow their disagreement with the President on immigration trumps the protection of our country and that somehow we will all go along with that.

    Speaker Boehner mentioned me. My friend and my colleague from Texas just mentioned me. Yes, I said it. I am uncomfortable with the President issuing Executive orders such as this--no matter what party it is, no matter who the President is. But what I said when I made that statement is--I pivoted, and I said: Do you know how we prevent that from happening? We have a House of Representatives that is willing to take up and debate immigration reform. This body passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill by a wide margin. It wasn't even a squeaker. Many of my Republican colleagues voted for it, understanding this is a public policy area in our country that needs to be addressed.

    We can't make it a political punching bag on either side. My party can't say: We are for the immigrants; we get their votes. And the Republican Party can't say: Well, we are for the tea party, and we are against all immigrants. We need to come together and do public policy in a system that is broken. The bill we passed here was amazing in terms of border security. But Speaker Boehner wouldn't take it up for more than 18 months. Speaker Boehner wouldn't even allow it to be debated on the floor of the House.

    Now the Republicans are in charge. Do they take up immigration reform? Do they have a proposal? By the way, that is the way you get rid of the President's Executive order; that is, we do our jobs. We do our job. It is a little bit like ``replace'' for health care. I have heard repeal and replace for 4 years. Has anybody seen replace? Has it been identified anywhere? If it is out there, I would love to see it. It has been talked about a lot. The same thing for immigration. If you don't like what the President has done, then put up a bill and let's debate it.

    By the way, the Republicans have the power to do that immediately after we fund Homeland Security. We don't have to talk about anything else. We can [[Page S725]] stay on immigration reform and pound out a compromise and public policy that won't please everyone but will do exactly what the American people want us to do, and that is find a compromise that works.

    As countries around the world have united in their opposition to ISIS and the barbarians who are participating in ISIS activities, as all of our allies and some who haven't traditionally been our allies are beefing up their cyber security, their border security, beefing up their homeland security, their airport security, adding more resources, what are we doing in America? Talk about a mixed signal--we are threatening to shut ours down. We are threatening to shut ours down to score political points.

    I know there would be tough votes on immigration reform when we debate it, for me in my State and for many in their States. We had those tough votes last year and the year before. We pounded out a bill that nobody loved, but it was pretty good. It made sure, by the way, that people who had broken the rules went to the back of the line. If you want people who break the rules to go to the back of the line, then let's get busy on immigration reform. But this is exactly the nonsense that frustrates Americans--threatening to shut down a vital part of protecting our country in the name of politics.

    The notion that the senior Senator from Texas, the assistant majority floor leader, just said--that we were denying a debate--is absurd on its face. We debate whatever the Republican Party wants us to debate now. They are in charge. So step up, fund Homeland Security, and move on to an immigration debate. You will find a lot of willing partners trying to find a way forward but not with this gamesmanship. It is not going to happen. It isn't going to happen because homeland security is too important, especially at this moment in our history.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator of New Hampshire.

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