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John T.
Republican SD

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  • Department of Homeland Security Funding

    by Senator John Thune

    Posted on 2015-02-10

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    THUNE. Mr. President, for the past week Democrats in the Senate have been filibustering a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year. They object to the bill because it does not fund President Obama's Executive overreach on immigration--despite the fact that the President spent years declaring he didn't have the constitutional authority to grant amnesty.

    [[Page S879]] Quoting what the President told an audience on July 25, 2011: Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting, I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how our system works. That's not how our democracy functions. That is not how our Constitution is written.

    On January 30, 2013, the President stated, ``I am not a king. . . . I am required to follow the law.'' That same day he said: If this was an issue I could do unilaterally, I would have done it a long time ago. . . . The way our system works is Congress has to pass legislation. I then get an opportunity to sign it and implement it.

    Well, President Obama was right. The Constitution does not give the President authority to make laws. It is Congress's job to make laws, and it is the President's job to execute them. Clearly, based on these statements, the President knows that. He has reiterated that sentiment more than 20 times over the past few years. Yet a few months ago he decided to ignore the law and the Constitution in an attempt to make immigration law by Executive fiat. How can he possibly justify that? Members of his own party were troubled by that decision.

    ``I have to be honest, how this is coming about makes me uncomfortable,'' said a colleague from the State of Missouri back in November.

    The junior Senator from Indiana said that ``the President shouldn't make such significant policy changes on his own.'' The junior Senator from Minnesota admitted, ``I have concerns about executive action.'' ``I also frankly am concerned about the constitutional separation of powers,'' said the Independent Senator from the State of Maine.

    Many Democrats here in the Senate Chamber, as well as an Independent, have expressed their reservations and their concerns about how the President has proceeded. Democrats are right to be concerned, which makes it particularly troubling that Democrats are now trying to shut down the Department of Homeland Security to protect the President's overreach because, make no mistake, Democrats are refusing to fund the Department of Homeland Security unless funding is provided for the President's unconstitutional attempt to make his own immigration laws.

    If Democrats don't like this bill, they should vote to debate the measure and offer amendments to fix the parts they don't like. Republicans are ready and willing to entertain Democrats' amendments. In fact, the Republican leader has offered to let Democrats alternate amendments with Republicans on a one-to-one basis. An open debate is what the Senate is known for on a big issue. If Democrats want to fund actions that even they have admitted are troubling, they are welcome to offer an amendment to provide that funding. They have that opportunity.

    What we are talking about is the Republican leader, Senator McConnell, offering an open process--something that we have talked about since we became the majority, something that we were denied in the last session of Congress when we were in the minority. We have the opportunity to have an open debate, offer amendments, and vote on those amendments. That is precisely what majority leader Senator McConnell has put forward. He has given Democrats that option.

    Let's put the bill on the floor. We will have a chance to offer amendments. If Democrats don't like what is in the bill, they will have an opportunity to offer amendments, have that debate, and vote.

    Democrats need to stop their obstruction and move forward on this bill. Blocking all funding to the Department of Homeland Security is not a responsible solution, especially when the Democrats are blocking the bill solely to protect Presidential actions that the President himself has admitted are unconstitutional and outside the scope of his authority.

    We can end all this gridlock that is existing right now on the Senate floor simply by the Democrats allowing us to get on this bill and end the filibuster. Give us an opportunity to debate and offer amendments. Let's have that debate--a debate that is clearly important to a lot of people across this country and certainly a lot of people here in the Chamber of the Senate. We are going to be denied that opportunity if the current filibuster and current blocking of even getting on that legislation continues by the Democrats.


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