Floor Speech on House Republicans' Three-Week Continuing Resolution on DHS
“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding, and I congratulate her on her exceptional leadership as the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee. I also commend our colleague, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Homeland Security for her great leadership to protect the American people, to keep American security strong and certain. I also thank the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Rogers, for the important work that was done leading up to December to have bipartisan legislation, to have an omnibus bill that funded all of the departments of government, except, unfortunately, Homeland Security, for the full-time.
“That's really a disappointment. Because the first thing we do as Members of Congress is to take the oath of office to protect and defend the American people. That we would have this be the last bill that we would fund fully is really shameful. And the fact is that the Senate has acted in a strong bipartisan way. I always like to talk about time. It's about time. It's about the time that has been lost from December until March 19 – in terms of what the intentions are of our Republican colleagues here. It's about the time lost – the uncertainty placed on our security.
“It's so sad. At the same time, this morning, the Senate, in a very strong bipartisan way, passed a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill. The papers are here. We could take it up immediately, send the bill to the President. The crisis would be over – long overdue, mind you, but nonetheless bipartisan and with great certainty. Instead of that certainty, while the Senate Republicans have joined with Senate Democrats to send this bill over here, the House Republicans instead have continued to manufacture a crisis that does not exist – but exacerbate the insecurity of our country by their inaction.
“The fact is, this bill that the Senate has sent over has the support of every Democrat in the house. The Roybal-Allard-Lowey legislation is co-sponsored by every Democrat in the House – full funding for the full term for the Department of Homeland Security. All of our Members, Democratic and Republican, will have a chance to vote on that in terms of the Previous Question, in terms of the Motion to Recommit, in terms of Motions to Instruct Conferees. What we are missing is the ability of the Speaker to give us a vote on this Senate bill. Give us a vote, Mr. Speaker. Give us a vote. Instead, drip, drip, drip, drip. The Republican leadership is putting forth legislation, drip, drip, drip, drip, for the resources.
“I want to read the words of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, who has been a great leader in the position he holds. He says in his remarks – he goes through all the reasons why a shutdown would be harmful, and to those who want a shutdown, read his letter, please. But he goes on to say, as I have so noted many times: ‘Mere extension of a Continuing Resolution has many of the same negative impacts. A short-term Continuing Resolution exacerbates the uncertainty for my workforce and puts us back in the same position, on the brink of a shutdown, just days from now.’
“Can our Republican colleagues say that we won't be on the brink of another shutdown in the next few weeks, in terms of the legislation they are putting forth? What is the purpose of it? If the purpose is to oppose the President's immigration policy, the Court has given you a face-saving way out. If the purpose is to have a better idea about immigration, bring up a bill. But if the purpose is to inject uncertainty into the security of the American people – shame, shame, shame. Because it undermines our responsibility to the American people. It undermines the oath that we all take. And it's really a very sad day.
“I urge my colleagues, as they weigh the equities – we all want to make sure that the workforce of DHS is fully engaged, employed, and paid. I would just like to ask my colleagues who have been advocating for a shutdown, or take us to the brick of a shutdown over and over again, if they would like to live without being paid as Members of Congress. Members of our work force make much less than Members of Congress, most of them. They live paycheck to paycheck. Why are we saying to them: come to work 160-some thousand of you, don't get paid, but get paid later. They don't have trust funds – that may come as a surprise to you. Perhaps you do, and maybe that's why you don't think not getting a paycheck is a big deal. And then to the other, say, 30,000 you’ve just said: stay home, don't come anywhere near here and not get paid. Some say: oh, they'll get paid later. That's not the way it works. They have mortgages or rent, car payments, all the rest. So what could you possibly be thinking? What equity could you weigh against security, respect for our work force, morale of the people who are on the frontlines to protect our homeland security?
“It was quite a lively debate a number years ago, and I was part of it as a Member of the Leadership, to establish the Department of Homeland Security and the Committee of Homeland Security in the House, and hence the subcommittee on Appropriations. The words were chosen very carefully, homeland security. Home, homeland security.
“And the American people should know what this means to their home security. The list is a long one, but I’ll just do a few things to say: without the full year funding bill, DHS cannot award $2.5 billion in grant funding. That means if you're in an urban security area – a place that would be targeted, maybe 40 of the urban areas in our country – $600 million in grants would be withheld. FEMA: $350 million in emergency management preparedness grants. $340 million in SAFER: Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response. That's an acronym, SAFER. That means a lot in your neighborhood. $340 million in firefighter assistance grants. $120 million for food and shelter grants and $100 million in flood-related grants. All of this hit home and they hit homeland security. So these numbers have an impact, ramifications in the lives of the American people beyond the workers, but the people that they work for.
“So I urge my colleagues to think another time about this. We have the paper. The bill is here. It's passed in a strong bipartisan way in the Senate. Every House Democrat has endorsed the bill. We'll vote it with other parliamentary options that are available to us. How much better as we come together as the Senate Republicans and Democrats did – come together to support certainty in our security. Otherwise, the question is: why, why not, why are you not taking advantage of this great opportunity? The courts saved you face. What happened in Paris added to the urgency. The examples of people being picked up in our own country make matters worse. Stop the drip, drip, drip of funds week to week. Let's get the job done for the American people by doing it right, following the lead of the Senate Republicans and the Senate Democrats.
“I urge my colleagues to vote no on this legislation. I appreciate the concerns we all have about a shutdown of government. We can't let that happen, but this is not the way to go. With that, again, I commend Congresswoman Lowey, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, [Congressman] Bennie Thompson, the Authorizing Committee for their great leadership on our side. And the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Rogers, know I have tremendous amount of respect for him. I feel sad for him that he's in this situation. I hope we can get out of it soon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”