Department of Homeland Security Fundingby Senator Roy Blunt
Posted on 2015-02-12
BLUNT. Mr. President, I heard the remarks earlier today about how
we need to move forward with the Department of Homeland Security
funding bill without any reaction to the President's Executive actions
of last year. One way to see if that would really meet the test of the
Senate is to move forward, to have the debate.
Our friends on the other side are unwilling to debate this. Why would that be? Many of them disagree with the actions of the President of last November. Enough of them certainly disagreed to have 60 votes on the Senate floor that would pass a bill to reverse those actions. Maybe not everybody agrees with everything, but we had more amendment votes on the Senate floor 2 weeks ago on 2 different days--each of 2 different days--than we had all of last year. The majority leader has shown a commitment to let Senators be heard. If they want to improve what the House sent over, let's debate it. If they want to improve what the House sent over, let's hear what those improvements are.
Later today I am joining my colleagues from the Senate Steering Committee and the Republican Study Committee to discuss why Senate Democrats continue their efforts to filibuster this funding bill, to not have a debate on this funding bill. In the last Congress we were often accused of not being willing to end debate; seldom were we accused of not being willing to have the debate. Our argument was, how can we end debate when we have had no amendments? We have not been able to be heard on how we would like to change this bill. Why would we end that debate? Seldom were we accused of not wanting to go to debate. Several times that was the case when it was clear that nothing was going to happen and the debate was all about politics.
This is a debate about funding part of the government that is so essential that if funding is not there, almost all of the employees show up anyway. They are considered essential. They need a paycheck, just as families all over America do. We are going to see to it that that happens. These are essential employees.
This is not a situation where we can just decide we don't need to have the debate. Our friends on the other side can't continue to think that the debate only happens and amendments only happen in the Senate if there are provisions with which they agree. Maybe they just don't want to explain why the President said 22 times he couldn't take the action he took in November. That is a lot of times, even by political standards. Twenty-two times saying he can't do something and then figuring out a way he can do it is a pretty extraordinary event.
So we need to have this debate. Frankly, unless we engage in the debate, we won't really ever know what is going to happen with the debate.
I think it is time to move forward. I hope Senate Democrats will work with us. If they want to offer amendments, I am more than happy to vote on their amendments. I think the bill the House sent over is work product we should be pursuing. We should be moving forward with it. Seldom is there legislation that can't possibly be improved, but it can't be improved if we won't talk about it. This is not an option. This is an issue we eventually have to deal with.
Let's have the debate on why it now doesn't matter that the President said 22 times he wasn't going to take an action and then took it. If there are provisions in the House bill our friends on the other side don't like, let's hear what they are and vote on those issues and see what happens then.
We need to continue our efforts to move to this funding bill. I hope we will still engage in this debate before the end of the month and give this the attention it deserves.
We should not assume that any legislation that comes to the floor is so perfect, it can't be improved. In fact, the tradition for appropriations bills of the Senate and the House has always been that any Member could challenge anything--until about 7 years ago when suddenly no Member could challenge anything. Let's get back to the way this work is supposed to be done.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.