Senator Carper: Time is Running Out to Fund the Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, voted for a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the rest of the fiscal year 2015. Following the vote on the bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 68 to 31, Sen. Carper joined fellow Democrats to call on the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead, fund the Department for the rest of the fiscal year, and avoid another stop-gap continuing resolution.

Sen. Carper’s remarks, as delivered:

“My congratulations to Senator Mikulski and Senator Shaheen for helping to craft or re-craft virtually the same legislation that was passed with bipartisan support last December to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security.

“I used to be a Naval flight officer for about 23 years in Navy P- 3 aircraft, and we’d use the autopilot on every flight that we flew. Every flight that we flew. We flew a lot of missions over and around Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

“We flew a lot of missions after that — hunting for Red October, chasing Soviet nuclear submarines in all the oceans of the world. Autopilot works fine some of the time. It works fine some of the time — unless you run into weather. Unless you run into a typhoon. Unless you run into turbulence. Unless you run into incoming fire.

“The problem with the continuing resolution (C.R.) that the House of Representatives appears to be ready to adopt is it puts us on autopilot. Not forever, but for three weeks. And the problem with that is this: the turbulence, the weather, the incoming fire may not be quite the same with respect to a C.R., but I’ll tell you what is different. And just like the weather changes, and the theater that you’re working in in an airplane changes, the threats that we face in this country, to our country, here and around the world continue to evolve. And what might have been a threat that we faced three weeks ago, three months ago, a year ago is not the same threat that we face today. They continue to evolve.

“Three weeks while I was down on the Texas-Mexican border in South Texas, in a Navy P-3 airplane again. This time, not a Navy plane, but actually a Department of Homeland Security aircraft. We were down there looking for bad guys trying to get into our country. With contraband, with drugs, sometimes trafficking human beings. And you know what? We need, in order to make our folks more effective on the border, to have dirigibles to go up in the air, look far away, see what’s coming in. We need to have folks on the rivers in fast boats that can outrun the bad guys. We need to have fixed cameras that are actually mounted and able to look down into Mexico and up and down the Rio Grande River.

“Unfortunately, a C.R., whether it’s three weeks or three months, doesn’t allow us to do those things. It does not allow us to really provide the force multipliers.

“The last thing I’ll say is this. My best takeaway three weeks ago on the Texas border was this from all kinds of people, Americans down there, border patrol and others, was this: the key to securing our borders is technology. The key to securing our borders is technology. And the problem with this C.R. is it does not allow us to deploy the kind of technology that will enable us to provide more secure borders and a safer country.

“Last word: I understand that our Republican friends are unhappy with the president’s executive orders; I get that. I would suggest that the way to address that concern, the way to channel that anger is not to degrade our security, not to degrade the capabilities of the Department of Homeland Security.

“Go to court. The courts are there. They’re waiting to hear you. They’re waiting to have you make the arguments. Use that. In the meantime, let’s fund the Department of Homeland Security so that the men and women there, the 220,000 people there, can actually do their jobs and protect this nation.”