PRICE RULES COMMITTEE TESTIMONY ON AMENDMENT TO "CROMNIBUS"
Washington, DC –Ranking Member David Price (NC-04)of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee has introduced an amendment to H.R. 83 that would extend the Homeland Security continuing resolution through the end of the fiscal year and provide additional financial flexibility to the Department. Ranking Member Price gave the following testimony before the Rules Committee in support of his amendment, which was co-sponsored by the Democratic Members of the Subcommittee.
“Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Slaughter, and other members of the Committee, my amendment is simple and straightforward. It provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with a year-long continuing resolution (CR), with adjustments to bring the bill’s total up to its fiscal year 2015 allocation level. In addition, it provides sufficient flexibility for the Department to address the needs and priorities identified in its budget request, as modified by the House and Senate Committee bills. It provides the certainty of full-year funding to the Department of Homeland Security, and gives the Secretary the ability to protect this country from terrorist threats, secure our borders, enforce immigration law, and continue to recapitalize the Coast Guard’s aging fleet.
“I am offering this amendment with the co-sponsorship of all Democratic members of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Reps. Roybal-Allard, Cuellar, and Owens.
“This amendment is certainly not our first choice of action; the Homeland Security bill has been finished and ready to go for the last week, and I have heard no coherent line of reasoning that would justify anything less than enacting the full year bill.
“But the short-term CR extension in this bill for DHS only creates uncertainty, and will:
· Limit the Department’s ability to aggressively move forward with the Secretary’s Unity of Effort initiative to make the Department more strategic in carrying out its security missions and improve coordination among its components;
· Limit the ability to aggressively move ahead with the Secretary’s Southern Border and Approaches campaign;
· Create uncertainty regarding ICE’s capacity to detain and deport dangerous criminals and to transfer unaccompanied children to HHS for humane treatment;
· Delay needed procurements, potentially including acquisition of the 8th National Security Cutter, resulting in scheduling delays and added costs; and
· Delay needed security upgrades at the White House Complex to prevent fence-jumper intrusions.
“The apparent intent of the House majority in holding back full-year funding for DHS is to help them reverse the President’s executive order on immigration early in the next Congress. But how will that really play out? Presumably, the House could send a full-year Homeland Security funding bill to the Senate in January or February that would prohibit the use of any funds to carry out the President’s executive order. Without 60 votes in the Senate, however, it’s likely that such a bill would go nowhere. Or, if the Senate were able to pass legislation to defund the executive order, the President would certainly veto it, with absolutely no chance that the House or the Senate could override that veto.
“So what is left of the majority’s strategy? Would the Republican majorities in the House and Senate really be willing to let funding for the Department of Homeland Security lapse when the short-term CR expires? Cutting off funding for DHS would appear to be the only leverage available at that point.
“The vast majority of DHS employees are considered essential, so they would still need to show up for work. Will the House majority really be willing to let front-line agents and officers at CBP and ICE work without pay? Would the House majority be willing to let Coast Guard military personnel continue to risk their lives at sea without compensation? Imagine the outrage that would have occurred had a Democratic Congress ever held funding for the Department of Homeland Security hostage during the George W. Bush Administration – yet that is precisely what House Republicans are setting up right now by including only a short-term CR for DHS in this bill.
“A full-year DHS funding bill should be part of this omnibus package. It was negotiated in good faith on a bicameral, bipartisan basis, and it addresses the most pressing needs of the Department as it works to protect this country from harm. Short of that, I urge the Committee to permit consideration of our amendment by the House.”