WASHINGTON – This evening, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released the following statement in response to the House passage of a stop-gap funding measure that will keep the Department of Homeland Security funded at fiscal year 2014 levels for the next seven days and avoid a shutdown of the agency at midnight tonight.
The measure comes after Sen. Carper joined 67 of his Senate colleagues earlier today to approve a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the rest of fiscal year 2015. Following the Senate vote, Sen. Carper joined his 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. Click here to watch Sen. Carper’s remarks from that press conference or click here to read a transcript.
“Americans only need to turn on the television, read the newspaper, or open their email to know that the threats our nation faces are complex, persistent, and very real. Over the past several months, we’ve seen horrific images of beheadings, mass murders, and brutal executions at the hands of the Islamic State. We also learned of the arrest of three men in New York and Florida who were allegedly on their way to join the Islamic State in Syria. The Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group in Somalia -- Al-Shabaab – also vowed that they would seek revenge against the United States and cited the Mall of America in Minnesota as a potential target. In cyberspace, some of our nation’s largest companies and federal agencies have been victims of massive data breaches.
“And it’s not just these threats we need to worry about. Last fall, Ebola ravaged several nations in western Africa and even came to our shores, too. Threats from Mother Nature can strike at any time, as well. Communities and cities in some parts of our country are trying to get through a winter that has already broken snowfall records, and more records are likely to fall.
“Thanks in large part to the work of the men and women at the Department of Homeland Security, Americans are more secure from these threats. But in order for the Department to efficiently and effectively carry out its critical role in combatting these multiple, and ever-changing threats our country faces, it needs fiscal certainty and the full support of this Congress.
“Earlier today, the Senate did its job and passed a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year. Unfortunately, my colleagues in the House of Representatives decided to kick the can down the road, meaning we will come back here next week and have this same debate – just to prove a political point. I just hope we are able to produce a better result next time, and the House is able to pass a clean funding bill for the Department for the balance of the fiscal year, and give it the funding and certainty it desperately needs.
“While I am relieved that Congress avoided a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, a short-term, stop-gap measure is not a solution. If Congress continues this stop-gap approach and keeps the Department on autopilot, we leave the agency unable to adapt and evolve to the threats that we face in this country. For example, Customs and Border Protection won’t be able to replace obsolete surveillance technology along high-risk areas of our border, including the Rio Grande Valley. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will not be able to award over $2 billion in new homeland security grants to state and local governments, law enforcement, emergency response officials or fire departments. The U.S. Secret Service won’t be able to make security upgrades at the White House to address jumpers scaling the fence.
“In addition to hurting our national security and public safety, this kind of crisis budgeting costs taxpayers millions of dollars in lost productivity and hiring freezes. Contracts will also have to be renegotiated at higher, not lower, costs to taxpayers. For example, the U.S Coast Guard will have to delay a $600 million contract to build a National Security Cutter from being awarded. This cutter is critical to stopping illegal activity off of our shores and ports of entry, including illegal immigration and drug and human trafficking.
“As any business owner knows, this is not the way to run a business, and it’s certainly no way to run a vital national security agency.
“Furthermore, these budget battles will continue to degrade morale at the Department, which already ranks dead last for morale among other federal agencies. This is no way for us to treat the men and women who are working around the clock to keep us safe.
“I understand some of my colleagues are concerned about the policies and procedures set forth in the President’s executive actions on immigration. They have every right to express those concerns but the Department of Homeland Security’s budget is not the place to have this debate. A federal district court in south Texas recently examined what the President has put forward and blocked its implementation. To my colleagues in Congress, let’s allow the judicial process to play out and do our job by fully funding the Department of Homeland Security when we revisit this debate next week. Then, once a clean, full-year funding bill is on its way to the White House, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work on a thoughtful, 21st century immigration policy for America – a policy that is fair, that will significantly reduce the nation’s budget deficit, and that will strengthen the economic recovery now underway. We’ve done it before, so let’s show the American people we can do it again.”