Bipartisan Cooperation Needed to Complete Remaining Work
‘In addition, at the request of the president and following improvements to the legislation that have been secured by several members, the Senate will take up the recently revised Criminal Justice bill this month. I intend to turn to the new text as early as the end of this week. So as a result of this additional legislative business, members should now be prepared to work between Christmas and New Year’s if necessary in order to complete our work.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate regarding remaining business to be completed in the Senate before the end of the year:
“First, I think it’s time the Senate subject ourselves to a bit of a ‘reality check.’ Today is December 11th. Here are just some of the things the Senate needs to accomplish before this Congress adjourns.
“We need to confirm more of the president’s nominees for the judiciary and for the executive branch -- such as the well-qualified nominee to serve as Deputy Secretary at the Department of the Treasury whom we’re currently considering. We need to reach an agreement to fund the remaining one fourth of the federal government that was not covered by regular appropriations. We need to make a substantial new investment in the integrity of our borders and the security of American families. We need to take up and pass the conference report for the Farm Bill to honor our commitments to our nation’s growers and producers.
“This week alone, we need to dispense with the debate pertaining to the situation in Yemen and an attempt by some of our Democratic colleagues to undo reforms that protect Americans’ private, personal information as they exercise their First Amendment rights. In addition, at the request of the president and following improvements to the legislation that have been secured by several members, the Senate will take up the recently revised Criminal Justice bill this month. I intend to turn to the new text as early as the end of this week. So as a result of this additional legislative business, members should now be prepared to work between Christmas and New Year’s if necessary in order to complete our work.
“Let me say that again. Unless we approach all this work in a highly collaborative, productive way and take real advantage of unanimous consent to expedite proceedings, it is virtually certain that the Senate will need to be in session between Christmas and New Year’s in order to complete this work. The Senate is a consent-based institution. Expediting this work would require an extraordinary degree of collaboration and hard work from everyone. So members should either prepare to cooperate and work together – or prepare for a very, very long month.
“And just a few hours from now, we’ll receive an indication of whether that cooperation will begin to take shape. My friend the Democratic Leader and his counterpart in the House are scheduled to meet with President Trump at the White House later today. For the nation’s sake, I hope that my Democratic friends are prepared to have a serious discussion and reach an accommodation with the president on funding for border security.
“Otherwise, circumstances are beginning to resemble a movie we’ve seen before. It was only this past January when Democrats chose to manufacture a government funding lapse over the issue of illegal immigration. It didn’t work out very well. The reality is that the president’s request is entirely reasonable. And before today’s partisan considerations set in, I bet it might have looked reasonable to many of the majority of Senate Democrats who joined in support of physical border security legislation back in 2006.
“Senate Republicans are working with the president and his homeland security team on $5.02 billion of targeted funding to bolster security measures in the specific places where the Department of Homeland Security determines it is most needed. And make no mistake -- the need is great. In fiscal year 2018, Customs and Border Patrol reported a 30% increase in apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border. Looking further back, the monthly apprehension total this past October reached its highest level in four years.
“CBP has observed over the past year a 50% increase in apprehensions of known gang members and a 115% increase in seizures of fentanyl narcotics. Clearly, delivering border security funding must be a priority. That’s because the men and women of the Border Patrol deserve to be a priority. American communities deserve to be a priority, as they face down the threat of gang violence. American families deserve to be a priority, as the flow of lethal drugs fuels an epidemic of addiction. This is the right investment, in the right place, at the right time.
“There is no reason why the Democratic Leader and the House Democratic Leader should put the demands of far-left special interests ahead of the safety of American families. There is no reason for my Democratic friends to end this year the way they began it. It would be truly bizarre for them to decide they’d prefer a partial government shutdown to reasonable funding for national security. It would signal that their party is more committed to political spite for the president than to the public interest. So I will watch eagerly this morning, to see if the Democrats’ leaders approach these negotiations with the productive and good-faith spirit that they deserve.”
Related Issues: First Amendment, Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, War on Terror