A picture of Representative Nita M. Lowey
Nita L.
Democrat NY 17

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  • Providing for Consideration of S. 1, Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, and Providing for Proceedings During the Period from February 16, 2015, Through February 23, 2015

    by Representative Nita M. Lowey

    Posted on 2015-02-11

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    Read More about Providing for Consideration of S. 1, Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, and Providing for Proceedings During the Period from February 16, 2015, Through February 23, 2015

    LOWEY. Madam Speaker, I rise today to urge this House to immediately take up and pass a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. By defeating the previous question on the pending rule, we can immediately make in order a clean Homeland Security bill and stop the theatrics over the President's use of executive orders.

    Madam Speaker, as of today, we are 134 days into what should have been the start of this fiscal year. The situation this House has caused is completely unacceptable. We simply cannot wait one more day to do the right thing, the responsible thing, and fund these critical agencies tasked with protecting this Nation.

    As the ranking minority member of the Appropriations Committee, I was involved in the bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on the omnibus spending bill that passed the House and the Senate and was signed by the President last December. That package could have contained all 12 annual spending bills because all 12 were negotiated in conference, and every one of them was ready to go.

    An unfortunate decision was made by the leadership of this body to omit the Homeland Security bill, not because there were outstanding issues or continued disputes. That bill, negotiated by my good friend from North Carolina (Mr. Price), was stripped from the omnibus because some in this body were upset by the President's executive order on immigration. They even admitted the President's actions had little to do with the Homeland Security appropriations bill. Yet that was the choice that was made on how to proceed, so the Homeland Security appropriations bill was forced to operate under a continuing resolution instead of having a full-year bill. Ironically, it meant Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement--two of the agencies tasked with defending our borders and enforcing our immigration laws--had to do without the nearly $1 billion increase they would have gotten under the full-year bill.

    Delaying the full-year bill, my colleagues: limits the Department's ability to advance the Secretary's Unity of Effort initiative, designed to improve coordination in our security missions; limits the ability of the Secretary to move ahead with the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign; creates uncertainty regarding ICE's capacity to detain and deport dangerous criminals; complicates the Department's ability to deal with another influx of unaccompanied children at our border stations; delays the implementation of the new security upgrades at the White House and of the hiring increases of the U.S. Secret Service; and delays terrorism preparedness and response grants for State and local public safety personnel.

    I understand that many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle feel quite strongly about the President's use of executive orders on immigration policy, but I am compelled to remind those colleagues that they have every tool at their disposal to pass legislation changing the President's proposal.

    This stunt, my friends, has gone on too long. It is time to admit these immigration policy decisions have little to nothing to do with the appropriations process. The Homeland Security bill should never have been held hostage in this fight.

    Madam Speaker, just this week, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson issued a sobering statement about the consequences of operating under a continuing resolution. Quite simply, ``Border security is not free.'' I couldn't agree more.

    Madam Speaker, I would like to enter Secretary Johnson's statement in the Record.

    [Department of Homeland Security Press Release, Feb. 10, 2015] Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson on the Consequences to Border Security Without a DHS Appropriations Bill I continue to stress the need for a DHS appropriations bill for FY 2015, unburdened by politically charged amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions on immigration reform. The President has made plain that he will veto a bill that includes such language.

    At present, the Department of Homeland Security is operating on a continuing resolution that expires on February 27. As long as this Department is funded by a continuing resolution, there are a whole series of activities vital to homeland security and public safety that cannot be undertaken. The public must be aware of the real impacts to homeland security as long as DHS is funded by a continuing resolution, or, still worse, if Congress were to permit our funding to lapse altogether and the Department of Homeland Security goes into government shutdown.

    Last week I issued a statement noting the impact on DHS's grant-making activity to states, local and tribal governments as long as we are on a CR. Basically, we are prevented from funding all new non-disaster assistance grants.

    The public must also be aware of the impact on our ability to secure the borders as long as we operate on a CR. As part of our executive actions to reform the immigration system, the President and I have emphasized increased border security. Added border security is also a key component of the President's FY 2015 and FY 2016 budget submissions to Congress. But, as long as this Department is on a CR, and not a full-year appropriations bill, our ability to strengthen border security, to include maintaining the resources we put in place to respond to the surge in illegal migration into south Texas last summer, is constrained.

    Here are some concrete examples of things we need to do, but cannot, without a full-year DHS appropriations bill for FY 2015: Important investments in border security technology cannot be initiated, including additional resources to upgrade obsolete remote video surveillance systems and mobile video surveillance systems in the Rio Grande Valley; Investments to increase our ability to analyze geospatial intelligence cannot be made. This is a capability critical to enhancing situational awareness of illegal border crossings and prioritizing frontline personnel and capability deployments; Non-intrusive inspection technology at ports of entry cannot be enhanced. This technology reduces inspection times while facilitating trade and travel, and is necessary to detect illegal goods and materials, such as potential nuclear and radiological threats; Critical enhancements to the CBP National Targeting Center's operational and analytical systems cannot be made. These support our daily operations against transnational criminal organizations by identifying terrorist and criminal threats attempting to cross our borders via land, air and sea; and More aggressive investigations by ICE of transnational criminal organizations responsible for human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics smuggling, and cybercrime involving child exploitation and intellectual property rights violations.

    Border security is not free. The men and women of DHS need a partner in Congress to fund their efforts. Time is running out. I urge Congress to act responsibly and pass a clean appropriations bill for this Department.

    For more information, visit www.dhs.gov.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen). The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

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