MR. PRESIDENT, I rise to encourage the Senate to start debate on H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2015. I’m puzzled by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who insist on blocking debate on this bill, particularly after many of those individuals criticized the Majority for spending three weeks on the Keystone XL bill.
This body has a Constitutional obligation to consider appropriations bills. As a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, I understand the important role that the Department of Homeland Security plays in protecting our nation at its borders and in our communities. As the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I also understand the substantial amount of resources it takes to fund Customs and Border Protection, FEMA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Coast Guard, and TSA.
It wasn’t all that long ago, President Obama criticized Congressional Republicans by saying it was time to, “get out of the habit of governing by crisis.” Well, here we are just shy of a month before funding for the Department of Homeland Security expires. This bill has already passed the House with substantial support and now the Senate has the time to debate it, amend it, and pass it. However, nobody will get a chance to offer amendments unless our colleagues join us in allowing debate to begin on this bill.
I also believe President Obama acted unconstitutionally with his executive actions on immigration last year. A number of my colleagues feel the same way and this bill is an opportunity for the Senate to debate and fix this Administration’s failure to enforce the law.
I don’t buy the arguments that the Senate should consider its own bill to fund the Department. I would like to take this time to remind my colleagues that the Constitution requires revenue and spending bills to originate in the House. Why not call up the House bill and then offer our own amendments?
It is important that the Senate continue the regular order that rejuvenated this body with the start of the 114th Congress. I’ve long spoken on the merits of considering bills, amending bills, and passing bills under regular order. It’s a process that our constituents demand and it’s one that makes the Senate a healthier institution.
I for one do not wish to play chicken with the Department that keeps our skies safe, protects our borders and enforces a substantial body of federal law. This is why I encourage my colleagues to move forward with debate on this bill at this time.
I yield the floor.