A picture of Senator Jeff Sessions
Jefferson S.
Republican AL

About Sen. Jefferson
  • Department of Homeland Security Funding

    by Senator Jeff Sessions

    Posted on 2015-02-04

    submit to reddit

    Read More about Department of Homeland Security Funding

    SESSIONS. Mr. President, we are in an odd world. Our Democratic colleagues continue to have the gall to suggest and state that the Republicans are blocking funding for homeland security in America when nothing could be further from the truth.

    I guess they have gotten away with blaming Republicans for blocking things, so they just keep on saying it. But the House has fully funded all the legal policies and programs within Homeland Security, and they sent the bill over here.

    What did they do? They simply said: You can't take money out of homeland security enforcement for immigration and border security, and spend it on activities that violate the law, that undermine immigration law, that in fact are contrary to immigration law--that the President has said he intends to do no matter what Congress does, no matter what the American people want. He says he is going to do it anyway. They simply say we are not going to fund that.

    So it comes over to pass. It fully funds the Department of Homeland Security. It doesn't change any of the laws in Homeland Security--and they say this is being obstructed by the Republicans.

    But look. What does the media say about it? How is it being reported? Here is Politico: ``Democrats filibuster Department of Homeland Security bill.'' That was yesterday. And that is exactly what is happening. They are filibustering the bill and saying Republicans are blocking it, when all that the Republicans are saying is: Let's get on the bill. We can't even get on the bill so amendments can be offered because they are filibustering the motion to proceed to the bill, blocking us even getting on the legislation so amendments can be offered.

    If they are not happy with anything in the bill--the language the House put in or anything else--they can offer amendments to deal with it and strike it out.

    That is what Politico said.

    How about the New York Times. They are always favoring Democratic immigration policies. This is their headline: ``Senate Democrats Block Republicans' Homeland Security Bill.'' Isn't that true? That is exactly true.

    How about the Atlantic. I think this is almost amusing: ``The New Democratic Obstructionists.'' That is the headline in their publication.

    So I would push back at this. Are we through the looking glass? Are we down the rabbit hole into never-never land? Where are we? My good friend Senator Schumer, one of our able advocates here--and I really admire him. But this is what he said earlier today: The right wing of the Republican party is risking a D.H.S., a Department of Homeland Security, shutdown to get their way on immigration.

    This is how Senator Schumer framed it: They're saying take our hard right stance on immigration or we won't fund national security.

    He goes on to say: We think the American people are on our side. We're willing to have that debate.

    Well, why don't we have it? Why don't we bring the bill up and let's have the debate if he wants to offer amendments contrary to what the House did? But remember, the House didn't do anything but say we are going to spend money on all the programs in Homeland Security. It didn't defund any of them. It didn't change any of those rules.

    So, is it really true? Do only rightwing Republicans want to end the President's unlawful actions? No, no, no. That is not what the truth is.

    Why don't I share with our colleagues here what many of our Democratic Senators have said about the President's unlawful action. Here is what the junior Senator from Indiana said: It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it . . . I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the President shouldn't make such significant policy changes on his own.

    That was just November last year.

    The senior Senator from Missouri said: Our immigration system is broken, and I support a comprehensive plan to fix it, but executive orders aren't the way to do it.

    The senior Senator from West Virginia: I disagree with the President's decision to use executive action to make changes to our immigration system.

    The junior Senator from North Dakota: I'm disappointed the president decided to use executive action at this time on this issue. . . . It's Congress' job to pass legislation and deal with issues of this magnitude.

    Isn't that true.

    The junior Senator from Maine: I also have constitutional concerns about where prosecutorial discretion ends and unconstitutional executive authority begins.

    Well, I share that thought.

    The junior Senator from Minnesota: I have concerns about executive action. . . . This is a job for Congress.

    The senior Senator from Virginia: . . . the best way to get a comprehensive solution is to take this through the legislative process.

    So are those right-wingers? Are those people who can't be trusted to put the public interest first? Are they exaggerating? Are they somehow all in error to question the power of the Presidency to execute this policy? No, and I will cite one more national leader that is well known. I would cite President Obama himself, who on 20 [[Page S800]] different occasions said he did not have power to do what he now has done. So Congress is not passing any new law. Congress is not passing any new power. Congress is simply saying: Mr. President, you cannot create new laws and fund new programs that are contrary to existing law, in violation of existing law, and in violation of the wishes of the American people and the decided actions of Congress itself.

    Remember all these ideas were presented to Congress, and Congress rejected them. They were elected to represent the people of the United States of America, and they rejected these policies. So why should Congress fund the President, who goes and does what they now reject? Well, Senator Schumer says he believes the American people are on his side, or ``our side,'' the obstructionist side, the side that is blocking Homeland Security.

    Let's look at the polling data. This is a poll from Paragon Insights. The question to the American people was: Should you focus on bettering work situations for Americans? Should that be our focus and not immigration advancements or expansion. Among Democrats, 64 percent said yes. Among Independents, 75 percent said yes.

    What about this: Do you believe providing amnesty encourages illegal immigration? Democrats, 63 percent. Is that part of the great rightwing conspiracy? How about Independents--68 percent; Republicans, 88 percent.

    How about this: Do you believe illegal immigrants take jobs from vulnerable citizens? Democrats, 57 percent; Independents, 73 percent.

    How about this one: Do you believe amnesty is disastrous and unconstitutional? Democrats, 53 percent; Independents, 70 percent.

    How about the question that illegal immigrants take jobs from vulnerable citizens. What do Hispanics say about that? Mr. President, 65 percent of Hispanics agree with that.

    What about the question that providing amnesty encourages illegal immigration? We all know that it does, and 63 percent of Hispanics agree with that. What about the question: Amnesty will hollow out the middle class. We had a lot of talk about what to do with the middle class. Ask the middle class what they think for a change. Will amnesty hollow out the middle class? Independents--not Republicans, not Democrats, not rightwingers--73 percent agree; 62 percent of Hispanics agree with that statement.

    This idea somehow that the American people support blocking the Homeland Security bill to protect the President's unlawful Executive amnesty, that the American people support the Democrats in doing that is not true. The data shows that, and that is consistent with my understanding.

    How about this question in a poll by Kellyanne Conway's polling company, a nationwide survey: ``President Obama recently said that he may go around Congress and take executive action on immigration policy.'' This was done back in August of last year. ``Which do you support more: President Obama changing immigration policy on his own, or President Obama working with Congress to change immigration policy?'' Well, 74 percent said he should work with Congress. Only 21 percent said he should do it on his own.

    How about Independents? How about the Independents--not conservative rightwingers? What do they view as to whether the President should work with Congress and pass a law in the orderly business according to legitimate processes or do it on his own? Among Independents, 81 percent said he should work with Congress, and only 14 percent say he should do it on his own.

    So this idea that somehow the American people are all in support of President Obama's outrageous actions, which he himself 20 times said he had no power to do but did anyway, is just false. It is not true, and it is not true the Republicans are blocking the Homeland Security bill, either. The Democrats are filibustering the bill, not allowing it to come to the floor so even an amendment can be voted on.

    What do our colleagues do? They seem to think that if they say the Republicans are causing it to happen, then the media will accept it. But the media is not accepting this, and nobody is accepting this. And I hope the Democratic colleagues who openly question this policy will re-evaluate where they stand and think back.

    Isn't this the thing to do? Let's move to the bill, and then we can debate all the language and all the issues that are relevant and see where we go from there--not just block the bill. So I would urge colleagues to think that through and change their view from what they have been doing, which is supporting unanimously a filibuster.

    Now there is some simple Paragon Insights polling data. It asked a simple policy question without reference to Republicans and Democrats or President Obama. What did they find in their poll, by a 50-point measure? The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). The Senator's time has expired.

    Mr. SESSIONS. I ask unanimous consent for 2 additional minutes.

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

    Mr. SESSIONS. I didn't know we had a time limit.

    By a 50-point margin voters want to pass legislation making it harder to hire workers now illegally in the country--71 to 21. They want us to protect American workers, to make it harder for businesses to hire people unlawfully in the country. We are not doing any of that. The President has given an Executive order that provides 5 million people with work authorizations, Social Security cards, Social Security numbers, and the right to take any job in America when we have a shortage of jobs in America.

    Female voters support this action by a 3-to-1 margin. Hispanic voters support the measure by a 19-point margin, 56 to 37 percent. I would say blue-collar voters, people who go to work every day, strongly oppose the President's action by more than a 3-to-1 margin. One in three Obama voters opposes his Executive action, overall.

    We are not going to stop. President Obama does not have the authority to do this. It is a challenge institutionally to this body. No matter what you feel about amnesty or providing benefits for people here unlawfully, it is Congress's job, and we have to face up to it and wrestle with it.

    Some say that if we don't approve it, then we are not facing up to it. I don't agree. I think it is worth discussing and voting on it. So far Congress has rejected the President's ideas of how it should be handled. I think they will continue to do so. The American people overwhelmingly want the Congress to defend their interests, to defend their right to work, to defend their declining wages, and to do something about the wages that are declining, to do something about the difficulty their children have in finding a decent job--even college graduates. We don't have a shortage of workers in this country; we have a shortage of jobs in this country. That is absolutely clear.

    We can do this country a great service, and we can do the struggling, hurting middle-class workers a great service if we slow down a bit in this unlawful immigration flow. We have a generous lawful flow. Let's end the lawlessness and protect them, and maybe their wages will begin to rise, for a change, instead of falling, as they have done for a decade.

    I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

  • submit to reddit
  • Register your constituent account to respond

    Constituent Register