Price Floor Remarks on Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2015

January 14, 2015
Price Floor Remarks on Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2015

 Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may utilize.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this poison pill amendment, which is a laundry list of attacks on anything the executive branch has done to improve immigration and border security policy. It caters to every whim of the Republican Conference's most extreme elements. It would defund the Secretary's Southern Border and Approaches Campaign designed to unify border security efforts. It would defund policies to improve employment-based immigration, to bring highly skilled workers into our country. It would defund the policy to parole in place family members of citizens or lawful permanent residents who seek to enlist in the U.S. military, a policy supported by the Department of Defense. Incredibly, it would defund the Department's provision of temporary relief to individuals who were brought to this country illegally as children--those covered by the DREAM Act--and to the parents of U.S. citizens who meet certain criteria.

Of course, it would defund the Secretary's policy of setting immigration enforcement priorities. Every prosecutor in this country exercises some level of discretion to make the most of limited resources. We want our police to pursue murderers over traffic violators. We also should want DHS to focus enforcement efforts on illegal immigrants who pose a threat to our communities.

Now, it would be preferable--as the President is the first to acknowledge--to pass comprehensive immigration reform to address our country's festering immigration challenges. But in the face of House Republicans' failure to act, the President has taken well-considered steps, each of them well-grounded in law and precedent. If the Republican majority wishes to change the law in some way to deny him such authority, they should introduce legislation to do so. But adoption of this amendment would sabotage the Homeland Security funding bill and undermine our Nation's security at a time of great danger.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. McCarthy), the majority leader of the House of Representatives to speak, and thank him for his leadership.

Mr. McCARTHY. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, when the President was asked about his deportation policy early in 2013, President Obama said:

I am the President of the United States of America. I am not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.

Mr. Chairman, a few days earlier he said:

I am not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I am required to follow the law.

Twenty-two times, Mr. Chairman, the President said he couldn't ignore immigration law and create new laws by himself. But now, Mr. Chairman, President Obama has done exactly what he said he could not do. What changed between then and now? Nothing. Our Constitution is exactly thesame, and Congress still retains the sole power to legislate.

Mr. Chairman, Presidents do not have the right to rewrite any law in any instance. This fact is explicitly clear in regards to immigration. Actually, when it comes to immigration, the Supreme Court stated:

Over no conceivable subject is the legislative power of Congress more complete.

This is not a battle between Democrats and Republicans or a battle between pro-immigration and anti-immigration. It doesn't matter whether, Mr. Chairman, you like the results of what the President did or not. This is about resisting the assault on democratic government and protecting the constitutional separation of powers.

Let me be clear. This bill funds the entire Department of Homeland Security, so that is not an issue here. So when we vote today, there is only one question to ask: Do we weaken our Constitution by allowing the Executive to legislate, or do we defend the most fundamental laws of our democracy? There is no middle ground.

Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Lowey), our ranking member on Appropriations.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, the 114th Congress started 1 week ago with Republican leadership saying they wanted to work together and govern maturely. Well, it only took a week for Republican leadership to fold to its rightwing. Instead of compromise, we see confrontation.

Make no mistakes. The amendments being debated this morning would stop the bill, would kill the bill, hurt those who were brought here as children and know no other country than the United States, prevent the Department of Homeland Security from prioritizing the deportation of national security threats and dangerous felons, and are little more than a collection of political sound bites.

If you don't agree with the President's enforcement actions, which are legal and similar to steps taken by several Republican Presidents, then let us have a serious debate about comprehensive immigration reform, then bring an immigration bill to the floor.

Mr. Chairman, the President's executive actions will grow the economy by $90 billion to $210 billion over the next 10 years and raise average wages for U.S.-born workers by $170 a year. The House Republican proposal would not only eradicate these gains, but harm numerous security initiatives. After the tragic events in Paris, it is appalling that some would jeopardize our national security by adding these irresponsible amendments.

Let's vote against these poison bills and move forward with a solid, bipartisan Homeland Security bill supported by Democrats, Republicans, the House, and the Senate.

Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. GOODLATTE. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his leadership on this issue.

The Acting CHAIR. Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support the Aderholt-Mulvaney-Barletta amendment. The amendment will completely defund President Obama's unconstitutional power grab granting deferred action status and work authorization to over 4 million unlawful aliens. This policy threatens the separation of powers between Congress and the executive branch and violates President Obama's obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

In addition to barring the use of appropriated funds to carry out this policy, the amendment will also bar President Obama from using immigration user fees to accomplish his executive fiat.

Mr. Chairman, the amendment also defunds the Obama administration's so-called prosecutorial discretion memos that have gutted immigration enforcement within the United States, and the amendment defunds the ability of illegal aliens to receive any Federal benefit based on these policies.

Finally, the amendment makes clear that the defunded programs have no statutory or constitutional basis and, therefore, have no legal effect.

I again urge my colleagues to support this very good amendment.

Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Gutiérrez), the chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.