02.03.15

VIDEO: U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Calls for Clean Homeland Security Funding Bill

In floor speech, Baldwin highlights the importance of funding for Wisconsin communities

WATCH video of Baldwin’s remarks here.

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Appropriations and Homeland Security Committees, spoke on the Senate floor today urging her colleagues to take up and pass the clean Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations funding bill (S. 272) that Appropriations Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced last week. Today, Senate Republicans attempted to pass a DHS appropriation funding bill that included extraneous provisions intended to dismantle President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. A bipartisan majority, including Baldwin, voted against these efforts.

Excerpts from Baldwin’s remarks:

The bill we just voted on to fund this critical department put partisan politics ahead of national security, while also needlessly creating another manufactured budget crisis. And that is why I was unable to support it.”

“As a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I am a strong supporter of [the Mikulski and Shaheen] bill because it would fund programs that are critical to the nation and to my home state of Wisconsin. Their clean bill funds essential departments, like the Coast Guard, which keeps the Great Lakes safe and open for business. And it funds FEMA grants, which has helped communities in western Wisconsin plan and prepare for floods. These are critical assets that my constituents rely on, and putting them at risk is simply irresponsible.”  

Baldwin’s full remarks as prepared:

“It is no secret that we are living in dangerous times and we face a variety of threats. We face the threat of ISIL -- a barbaric terrorist organization that has beheaded innocent Americans and murdered other civilians across the globe. We face threats to the security of our personal information, both online and in our daily lives. We still face threats from Al-Qaeda, and rogue nations such as North Korea.

“With all of these ongoing threats to our nation and its citizens, shouldn’t our colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to work together in a bipartisan manner in order to fund the government agency responsible for protecting us from these threats? Evidently, they do not. 

“Instead, they are playing a partisan game while threatening to shut down the Department of Homeland Security. The bill we just voted on to fund this critical department put partisan politics ahead of national security, while also needlessly creating another manufactured budget crisis. And that is why I was unable to support it. 

“I understand our Republican colleagues have concerns about the President’s executive actions on immigration. And I believe there is a time and a place for this body to debate those issues. But to jeopardize our nation’s security by attaching a series of extraneous policies to this funding measure is extremely disappointing.

“I would actually like to remind our colleagues that the President’s actions on immigration devote more resources to securing our Southwest border, deporting felons, not families, and identifying threats to national security. The President’s executive actions also provide certain undocumented immigrants temporary relief -- after background checks and other security measures are passed --- bringing them out of the shadows so they can work and pay taxes like everyone else.

“I remain committed to finishing the job on bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform here in Congress, but until we can achieve that goal, I support the President keeping his promise to take action and do what he can legally do to fix our broken system.

“Consistent with the actions by previous Presidents of both parties, President Obama is right to follow in the footsteps of every president since Eisenhower to address as much of the problem as he can through executive action. The status quo is simply unacceptable.

“In fact, the Congressional Budget Office—also known as the nonpartisan scorekeeper—recently found that including a reversal of these executive orders in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill actually increases the deficit.     

“Instead of attaching these transparent attacks on the President, Congress should pass the clean, bipartisan bill that was previously negotiated and that was just reintroduced by Appropriations Vice Chairwoman Mikulski and Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Shaheen. 

“As a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I am a strong supporter of their bill because it would fund programs that are critical to the nation and to my home state of Wisconsin. Their clean bill funds essential departments, like the Coast Guard, which keeps the Great Lakes safe and open for business. And it funds FEMA grants, which has helped communities in western Wisconsin plan and prepare for floods. These are critical assets that my constituents rely on, and putting them at risk is simply irresponsible.   

“It is time for our colleagues to drop this dangerous political stunt and join with Democrats to pass a bipartisan bill that gives the Department of Homeland Security the resources it needs to keep Americans safe.

“Thank you and I yield the floor.”