Department of Homeland Security Fundingby Senator Jeff Sessions
Posted on 2015-02-04
SESSIONS. 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for the quorum call be rescinded.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. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask the Chair to please notify me at 9 minutes into a 10-minute speech.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator will be so notified.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, we are in the odd situation by which our Democratic colleagues are complaining that we are blocking funding for the Department of Homeland Security when the House has passed a bill that fully funds the Department of Homeland Security. It is sitting at the desk today. The majority leader, Senator McConnell, has moved to proceed to that bill, and they are blocking it. Senator McConnell moved to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed--to just [[Page S749]] get on the bill--and he has indicated, as he has before, that there would be amendments allowed to the bill. This would be the way to move forward with an appropriations bill in the regular order. So it is unbelievable, really, that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are trying to contend that the majority Republicans in Congress, in both Houses, are trying to block funding from the Department of Homeland Security when nothing could be farther from the truth.
Look at today's CNN headline. This is on their Web site: ``Democrats Block Funding for DHS to Protect Obama's Immigration Orders.'' Why are they blocking it? To protect Obama's immigration orders that are contrary to Congress's will, clearly overwhelmingly rejected by the American people, and contrary to law. Why should Congress fund unlawful activities? Why should it fund policies it does not approve of? Why should it fund policies the American people strongly reject? It has no duty to do that.
Congress is not a potted plant. It is not a rubberstamp. Congress has a duty to the people, which is to ensure that the laws of this country are followed, that the American people have defense for the homeland, with funding for the Department of Homeland Security, and they have done that. What they have said is we are not going to fund actions by the Department of Homeland Security that undermine the law. We are not going to approve money that undermines the laws of the United States, and we are not going to allow the President to take money, which was given to the Department of Homeland Security to enforce the law, so he can undermine the law.
What has the President done with his Executive orders? It is a stunning action. He said over 20 times he didn't have the power to do this. He doesn't have the power to do what he did. He just did it because political pressure, I guess, caused him to do so. He is going to provide legal status, not for children, for 5 million people. They will be given Social Security numbers. Constitutional scholars have told us, colleagues, the utilization of the idea of prosecutorial discretion is not appropriate in such a massive way as this. What I want to tell you is it goes well beyond prosecutorial discretion. The President is going to provide a Social Security number to people who are unlawfully here. He is going to provide a photo ID for people who are unlawfully in America, providing work permits for them, the right to participate in the Medicare and the right to receive checks from the Federal Government in the form of earned income tax credit to the tune of billions of dollars.
One of the first things we do to try to establish a lawful system of immigration is not provide financial benefit to people who come to the United States unlawfully. So this is a problem. I have to say it is a big problem.
My friend and able Member of this Senate, Senator Durbin, the Democratic whip, assistant minority leader, said this last night, yesterday: ``It is incredible to me that we have refused to provide funds the Department of Homeland Security needs to keep America safe.'' He said: ``It is incredible to me that we haven't passed a bill that the House sent over here that fully funds Homeland Security.'' I am not blocking the bill. We want to go on the bill. We want to be able to amend the bill to keep America safe. Who is blocking it? It is my Democratic colleagues. Senator Durbin is the leader of the blocking game. He is the offensive line, the center, I guess, of the offensive line.
Senator Durbin goes on to say: ``There is nothing wrong with a debate over immigration policy.'' That is correct. He continues: ``In fact, the Republicans, now in the majority control of the House and Senate, could have started the debate weeks ago. They didn't.'' Look, we debated Senator Durbin's vision. It was rejected by Congress, his ideas. Many supported the bill in this body. It didn't come back this fall in part because of their actions on immigration.
President Obama had the choice to go from State to State trying to elect people to pass his immigration bill, but he either didn't do it or it didn't work. The American people do not want this kind of legislation.
My friend Senator Durbin said further: ``Instead, they attached five riders to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, and they said: We will not allow that Department to be properly funded unless the President accepts these five immigration riders.'' This is just a normal bill that says how the money is going to be spent. It is going to be spent for enforcement, and we are not going to spend money to not enforce the law. It doesn't change. The bill the House has sent to us does not change one lawful immigration policy of America, not one. It is the President who adopted a radical new immigration policy contrary to law, contrary to the American people's wishes. In fact, quite a number of Democrats urged him not to issue such an order, but he did it anyway. Congress has a duty.
Senator Durbin talks about the DREAM Act that he offered. It had a chance for passage a number of times. But every time it was carefully read, it was an overreach. It went too far. But the point of which is it was rejected by Congress. Congress didn't pass that.
We need to be clear about who is objecting to what in this body, who wants to fund Homeland Security and who wants to advance a radical, unlawful, unpopular amnesty agenda the American people don't like.
Yesterday on the floor Senator Schumer asked if it wasn't possible for the Senate to pass a Department of Homeland Security bill--without language that would ensure the President complies with the Constitution, of course--and then send it back to the House.
Senator Schumer is one of our more able Members, for sure, in the Senate, and I respect him and his abilities. But the answer is this: The House-passed DHS bill is the only vehicle because the House of Representatives would blue-slip a bill that originates in the Senate. This is a basic tenet of how a bill becomes law. Article I, section 7, clause 1 of the Constitution states: All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Over the years, the House of Representatives has asserted, and successfully asserted, that this applied to revenue spending bills as well. According to the Congressional Research Service, as a result, the House customarily originates all ``money'' bills, including appropriations bills. The Congressional Research Service states: In practice, the Senate has generally deferred to the House's insistence on originating appropriations.
Indeed, it has generally deferred because they won't move anything that doesn't start over there. They successfully asserted that gray area to their benefit, and perhaps it is consistent with the Constitution.
My staff has been unable to find a single instance where the House took up a Senate-originated appropriations bill in over 100 years, since 1901.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has used 9 minutes.
Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Chair.
Our friends in the House have been unequivocal: The Senate must pass the House bill. Speaker Boehner said, ``Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats must stand together with the American people and block the President's actions.'' =========================== NOTE =========================== On page S749, February 4, 2015, in the third column, the following language appears: . . . Senator Boehner said, ``Senate . . .
The online Record has been corrected to read: . . . Speaker Boehner said, ``Senate . . .
========================= END NOTE ========================= House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said the Senate, ``should pass the bill, which funds a very vital national security agency but also turns back this blanket amnesty which is illegal and unconstitutional.'' That is where we are. The House has sent over the right bill. It does the right thing. It defends the integrity of the Congress. It defends the wishes of the American people, it defends the policy decision of the Congress of the United States, and prohibits the President from doing what he himself said over 20 different times he did not have the power to do. Professor after professor and historians have said the President doesn't have the power to do it. If the President can do this, if he can execute laws Congress has rejected, what will he be able to do in the future? The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.