Opposing the Republican Agendaby Representative Keith Ellison
Posted on 2015-01-13
ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, this Congress is still very young. This
that we are in right now began last week when we were gaveled in and we
were sworn in. It has taken very little time for my Republican
colleagues to begin to message to the American people just where they
The things we have seen last week from the very beginning--one thing we saw was an effort in the rules package which prohibited Social Security from sending money over to the Social Security disability fund. This has been done many times before; it is routine. It will certainly create pressure and undermine and create real damage and a scary situation for people who are on Social Security disability payments and who survive on it based on their documented, recorded illness.
But they didn't stop there. The very next day they began to erode the financial protections that protect Americans from the massive collapse that took place on Wall Street in 2008. Already they want to dismantle and chip away at the Volcker rule, a very commonsense rule which says that big banks that hold collateralized loan obligations have to move these big assets, these big financial instruments, outside of their banking business, wherein they have protected assets by the FDIC.
No sooner than we did that, the very next day we moved on to dismantling the Affordable Care Act, making it so you don't get health care coverage, can't mandate health care coverage until someone works 40 hours, as opposed to 30, which meant that there will be people who will lose out on health care coverage from their employer.
And the next day, we were here with the Keystone pipeline. They tried to push that under a bill that wasn't really a pure Keystone bill. It didn't have things like spill protection.
And then here we are this week about to see a bill on the floor very soon which will essentially prioritize Republican gamesmanship over immigration. It will prioritize that over our homeland security. The Homeland Security bill, this bill we passed last year, late last year-- you may recall something called the CR/Omnibus bill. It was a CR omnibus bill. We passed a whole series of funding bills for a year's time, except for one particular bill. And the bill that is due to expire is the Homeland Security bill.
Now in the wake of Paris happening just a few days ago, the horrific murder, carnage, and barbaric behavior by terrorists that happened just a few days ago, we now are facing a big fight on what of all things-- homeland security? And why are we having this big fight? It's because the Republicans want to show President Obama that they are not going to allow him to use executive authority that is well within his power to do.
Presidents have always used executive authority. The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln was executive authority. The bills that Ronald Reagan passed used executive authority many more times than President Obama has. So has George W. Bush. It is routine. Presidents issue executive orders.
President Obama has done some because the Republican majority has refused to move on comprehensive immigration reform. He has used his authority to prioritize the deportation of criminals, people who have committed crimes, over kids who are valedictorians, and he has done this well within his right as the chief executive officer of this country.
And because the Republicans don't like the executive orders, because they have very divisive views, in my opinion, on immigration, they have decided to have a very short Homeland Security funding bill, which is putting us in a position where we are either going to capitulate and back off on things that the President wants to do or we are going to pass a Homeland Security bill with a lot of things in it that would be damaging to the action that the President has already taken.
Let me tell you, some of the things in the Homeland Security bill are of huge concern to me. I will just share just a few of them. One of them is the Blackburn amendment. The Blackburn amendment would prohibit the use of funds to continue for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Pay close attention to this bill. This is not what the American people want. We urge the American people to pay close attention, and I intend to vote against these Republican measures.