WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the Senate voted to approve H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. The legislation provides funding for federal agencies for fiscal year 2015 but only funds the Department of Homeland Security until February 27, 2015.
“It’s should be clear to Congress that Americans want us to work together, get things done, and grow and strengthen our economy. The 2015 fiscal year spending bill is an important step toward doing what Americans expect us to do. I’d like to commend the efforts of my colleague, Senator Barbara Mikulski, for bringing a full year appropriations bill for nearly the entire government to the Senate floor. As a former Governor and now as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I know how important it is to provide timely and predictable budgets for our government agencies.
“This bill provides much-needed resources to address the underlying causes of the increase in migration we’ve seen from Central America. Specifically, it includes an increase of $130 million to address what I believe to be the root causes of this surge: the lack of economic opportunities, jobs, and hope in the nations of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, combined with increasing violence and insecurity in the region. While this money is not a silver bullet, I hope it is the beginning of a sustained focus on – and investment in— the region by the U.S. and our partners in the region.
“The measure also contains emergency funding to help meet our immediate and long term needs related to the Ebola epidemic. This includes needed funding to ensure the faster development of vaccines and medicines to treat the disease and more training and supplies for our nation’s healthcare workers and first responders. I am also pleased to see this bill dedicates funds to help our nation as we continue our campaign to defeat terrorism, including ISIS and other Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria
“Unfortunately, one agency vital to our overall national security will not receive its full year funding. I am deeply disappointed that the funding for the Department of Homeland Security is now the subject of partisan politics and political gamesmanship. The Department is charged with keeping our nation and Americans safe. Putting it on a short-term continuing resolution degrades employee morale, hurts day-to-day operations, hinders its ability to plan for the future, and creates inefficiency and uncertainty throughout its components. For example, it will hurt the Secret Service’s ability to hire and train new agents as it prepares for the 2016 presidential election. It will also negatively affect state and local governments who receive support from the Department for emergency response and law enforcement needs. Doing this to such a key national security agency is dangerous and counterproductive.
“As I’ve said before, I believe the best route we can take when it comes to funding our government is to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan budget plan that gives agencies and business certainty and shows the American people that we can lead. Then we need to translate those plans into timely appropriations bills that will let agencies and their partners spend their time trying to get better results for the taxpayer dollar, not hastily putting together contingency plans.
“While I commend all of the progress our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee have made with this bill, we still have a ways to go. I think we all agree that it’s time for this partisan, stopgap budgeting to end on all levels. It’s time for Congress to put politics aside, work together, and do what’s right for our country.”