Senator Carper: “Congress Needs to Do the Right Thing and Pass a Clean DHS Funding Bill”

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, urged his Senate colleagues to consider S. 272, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2015, a clean appropriations bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of fiscal year 2015. Sen. Carper joined 47 of his colleagues to reject H.R. 240, which contains riders that undermine, override, and defund the President’s immigration actions.

“Earlier today, we learned of the brutal and tragic death of First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh, of Jordan, at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” said Sen. Carper. “Last week, the same group declared that it is determined to ‘reach America.’ Yet at the same time, here in the United States, Congress is locked in a political debate about whether or not we fund the very agency that keeps Americans and their families safe from these and all types of threats. This is irresponsible and deeply disappointing behavior.

“In order for the Department of Homeland Security to efficiently and effectively carry out its critical role in combatting the many and ever-changing threats our country faces, it needs fiscal certainty and full support from Congress.  Another short-term budget – or, even worse, a shutdown — would be bad for the security of the United States, bad for the Department, bad for employee morale, and bad for our economy.  Unfortunately, the bill we voted on today included a number of amendments aimed at undermining the President’s immigration policies. Many of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle have significant concerns with these amendments, and the President has indicated that he would veto this bill if these amendments stay attached. Thus, these amendments jeopardize passage of the bill and threaten to prolong the crippling budget uncertainty the Department of Homeland Security has been operating under. On top of that, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the amendments on the House bill would increase deficits through 2025 by a total of $7.5 billion. 

“I understand why some of my colleagues are upset about the President’s immigration policies. We can and should have a debate about those concerns. But we can’t allow funding for our homeland security to be held hostage by disagreement over the these policies. Right now, we should focus on doing our jobs and keeping Americans safe in an ever more dangerous world.

“We have a solution sitting right in front of us. The bill that Senators Shaheen and Mikulski have introduced, S. 272, is a clean fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill, which both Democrats and Republicans agreed to last year. It provides the stable full-year funding the Department and our national security needs without demanding a ransom. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join me in doing the right thing and supporting passage of this clean, full-year appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security and rejecting the amendments approved by the House. The American people are counting on us.”

Earlier today, Sen. Carper joined Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and several of his Senate colleagues at a press conference calling for passage of a clean appropriation bill for the Department:

Click here to watch the speech.

If Congress fails to pass funding for the Department of Homeland Security and forces a shutdown of the Department, front-line personnel will continue to work but will not get paid, including:

  • Over 50,000 Transportation Security Administration security screeners keeping terrorists off planes;
  • Over 40,000 Customs and Border Protection officers needed to keep our borders secure;
  • Over 13,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents enforcing our immigration laws and combatting human and drug trafficking;
  • Over 40,000 active duty Coast Guard military members intercepting illegal activity that threaten our shores and ports of entry;
  • Over 4,000 Secret Service law enforcement agents and officers  responsible for combatting cyber and financial crimes and keeping the President and other officials safe.

If Congress continues to keep the Department on a continuing resolution:

  • The U.S. Secret Service won’t be able to move forward with many of the implementations necessary to address results of the independent panel review, including near-term requirements are perimeter fence fortification, Human Resource systems, training, and equipment necessary to sustain current high operations-tempo security posture.
  • Immigrations and Customs Enforcement  (ICE) could only fund 30,000 adult detention beds and no family detention beds (shortfall of 4,000 to comply with law).  This will result in reduced capacity to adequately respond to seasonal surges in migrants on our nation’s southwest border.
  • ICE will also see a shortfall of $545.7 million to respond to unaccompanied minors and families with children.
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will have a $200 million shortfall in pay and compensation for Border Patrol agents and CBP Officers. This will result in fewer agents and officers patrolling all of our borders and ports of entry. 
  • CBP won’t be able to replace or upgrade border surveillance technology, including upgrades to obsolete remote and mobile video surveillance systems in the high-risk area of the Rio Grande Valley.