(Senate - February 04, 2015)

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[Congressional Record Volume 161, Number 19 (Wednesday, February 4, 2015)]
[Pages S748-S750]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I find it tragically ironic that on the 
same day the Islamic State tragically took the life and murdered a 
Jordanian pilot that the U.S. Senate failed to get a 60-vote majority 
to move to a motion to proceed to debate the most important issue 
facing the United States of America. I agree with my colleagues who 
have talked about the dangers of Islamic terrorism, the dangers of 
porous borders, and all the other dangers we have spoken about, but we 
can't solve those problems unless we get the bill to the floor and 
debate it.
  I was elected in 2004. The No. 1 issue in my campaign and in the 
general election was immigration policy in the United States of 
America. Eleven years later, it is still the biggest domestic issue in 
the State of Georgia. We still have a porous border and we know how 
vulnerable we are. It is time we move this bill to the floor and fully 
debate it.
  I know there are differences of opinion. I know each one of us would 
do it differently. But we are part of a constitutional government to 
make decisions for our people. We don't need Executive orders dictating 
what we should do. We need a House and a Senate to come to common 
ground, we need a President who will sign a bill, and we need a bill to 
be upheld. We are not going to get there until we have debate on the 
floor and move forward on a motion to proceed to debate funding for the 
Department of Homeland Security.
  I just left a Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on human 
trafficking. We talked about the terrors of what is happening in terms 
of sexual abuse, sexual trafficking, child labor, minority labor--all 
of those horrors that are taking place. Do my colleagues know where 
they are taking place in our country? They are taking place on the 
border of the Southwest, in the Presiding Officer's home State of 
Arizona, where our border is porous. And because of that, drugs and 
human beings are trafficked every single day. That should stop.
  The No. 1 issue when we debated the Department of Homeland Security 
bill in 2005 was to put in a trigger to ensure that no changes in 
immigration law took place until we first secured the border.
  The border is still not secure. We are trying. I commend our brave 
soldiers and the State of Arizona, as well as Fort Huachuca, one of the 
beacons of the drones that are flying on the border with Mexico to try 
to identify people coming in, but we haven't done enough.
  We should bring the Department of Homeland Security bill to the 
floor. We should make sure the funding for the Department of Homeland 
Security is sufficient to secure our border. We will find our 
differences and we will debate our differences and we will come to 
common ground. But we can't come to common ground--we can't resolve our 
Nation's No. 1 domestic problem--unless we agree to bring to the floor 
the motion to proceed and bring a robust debate to the floor of the 
U.S. Senate.
  I, as one Member of the Senate, ran for this job to be a part of the 
solution, not someone who would throw up my arms and say we can't solve 
the problems so I am going to sit on the sidelines. Let's get off of 
the sidelines. Let's come to the floor of the Senate. Let's vote on the 
motion to proceed. Let's fully amend and debate the bill. Let's send 
the President a bill from a unified Congress that says we want a secure 
border, we want an immigration policy that works, and we want to once 
again be a government of checks and balances, not a government of 
Executive orders.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask the Chair to please notify me at 9 
minutes into a 10-minute speech.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator will be so notified.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, we are in the odd situation by which our 
Democratic colleagues are complaining that we are blocking funding for 
the Department of Homeland Security when the House has passed a bill 
that fully funds the Department of Homeland Security. It is sitting at 
the desk today. The majority leader, Senator McConnell, has moved to 
proceed to that bill, and they are blocking it. Senator McConnell moved 
to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed--to just

[[Page S749]]

get on the bill--and he has indicated, as he has before, that there 
would be amendments allowed to the bill. This would be the way to move 
forward with an appropriations bill in the regular order. So it is 
unbelievable, really, that our colleagues on the other side of the 
aisle are trying to contend that the majority Republicans in Congress, 
in both Houses, are trying to block funding from the Department of 
Homeland Security when nothing could be farther from the truth.
  Look at today's CNN headline. This is on their Web site: ``Democrats 
Block Funding for DHS to Protect Obama's Immigration Orders.''
  Why are they blocking it? To protect Obama's immigration orders that 
are contrary to Congress's will, clearly overwhelmingly rejected by the 
American people, and contrary to law. Why should Congress fund unlawful 
activities? Why should it fund policies it does not approve of? Why 
should it fund policies the American people strongly reject? It has no 
duty to do that.
  Congress is not a potted plant. It is not a rubberstamp. Congress has 
a duty to the people, which is to ensure that the laws of this country 
are followed, that the American people have defense for the homeland, 
with funding for the Department of Homeland Security, and they have 
done that. What they have said is we are not going to fund actions by 
the Department of Homeland Security that undermine the law. We are not 
going to approve money that undermines the laws of the United States, 
and we are not going to allow the President to take money, which was 
given to the Department of Homeland Security to enforce the law, so he 
can undermine the law.
  What has the President done with his Executive orders? It is a 
stunning action. He said over 20 times he didn't have the power to do 
this. He doesn't have the power to do what he did. He just did it 
because political pressure, I guess, caused him to do so. He is going 
to provide legal status, not for children, for 5 million people. They 
will be given Social Security numbers. Constitutional scholars have 
told us, colleagues, the utilization of the idea of prosecutorial 
discretion is not appropriate in such a massive way as this. What I 
want to tell you is it goes well beyond prosecutorial discretion. The 
President is going to provide a Social Security number to people who 
are unlawfully here. He is going to provide a photo ID for people who 
are unlawfully in America, providing work permits for them, the right 
to participate in the Medicare and the right to receive checks from the 
Federal Government in the form of earned income tax credit to the tune 
of billions of dollars.
  One of the first things we do to try to establish a lawful system of 
immigration is not provide financial benefit to people who come to the 
United States unlawfully. So this is a problem. I have to say it is a 
big problem.
  My friend and able Member of this Senate, Senator Durbin, the 
Democratic whip, assistant minority leader, said this last night, 
yesterday: ``It is incredible to me that we have refused to provide 
funds the Department of Homeland Security needs to keep America safe.'' 
He said: ``It is incredible to me that we haven't passed a bill that 
the House sent over here that fully funds Homeland Security.''
  I am not blocking the bill. We want to go on the bill. We want to be 
able to amend the bill to keep America safe. Who is blocking it? It is 
my Democratic colleagues. Senator Durbin is the leader of the blocking 
game. He is the offensive line, the center, I guess, of the offensive 
  Senator Durbin goes on to say: ``There is nothing wrong with a debate 
over immigration policy.''
  That is correct. He continues: ``In fact, the Republicans, now in the 
majority control of the House and Senate, could have started the debate 
weeks ago. They didn't.''
  Look, we debated Senator Durbin's vision. It was rejected by 
Congress, his ideas. Many supported the bill in this body. It didn't 
come back this fall in part because of their actions on immigration.
  President Obama had the choice to go from State to State trying to 
elect people to pass his immigration bill, but he either didn't do it 
or it didn't work. The American people do not want this kind of 
  My friend Senator Durbin said further: ``Instead, they attached five 
riders to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, and 
they said: We will not allow that Department to be properly funded 
unless the President accepts these five immigration riders.''
  This is just a normal bill that says how the money is going to be 
spent. It is going to be spent for enforcement, and we are not going to 
spend money to not enforce the law. It doesn't change. The bill the 
House has sent to us does not change one lawful immigration policy of 
America, not one. It is the President who adopted a radical new 
immigration policy contrary to law, contrary to the American people's 
wishes. In fact, quite a number of Democrats urged him not to issue 
such an order, but he did it anyway. Congress has a duty.
  Senator Durbin talks about the DREAM Act that he offered. It had a 
chance for passage a number of times. But every time it was carefully 
read, it was an overreach. It went too far. But the point of which is 
it was rejected by Congress. Congress didn't pass that.
  We need to be clear about who is objecting to what in this body, who 
wants to fund Homeland Security and who wants to advance a radical, 
unlawful, unpopular amnesty agenda the American people don't like.
  Yesterday on the floor Senator Schumer asked if it wasn't possible 
for the Senate to pass a Department of Homeland Security bill--without 
language that would ensure the President complies with the 
Constitution, of course--and then send it back to the House.
  Senator Schumer is one of our more able Members, for sure, in the 
Senate, and I respect him and his abilities. But the answer is this: 
The House-passed DHS bill is the only vehicle because the House of 
Representatives would blue-slip a bill that originates in the Senate. 
This is a basic tenet of how a bill becomes law. Article I, section 7, 
clause 1 of the Constitution states:

       All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House 
     of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with 
     Amendments as on other Bills.

  Over the years, the House of Representatives has asserted, and 
successfully asserted, that this applied to revenue spending bills as 
well. According to the Congressional Research Service, as a result, the 
House customarily originates all ``money'' bills, including 
appropriations bills. The Congressional Research Service states:

       In practice, the Senate has generally deferred to the 
     House's insistence on originating appropriations.

  Indeed, it has generally deferred because they won't move anything 
that doesn't start over there. They successfully asserted that gray 
area to their benefit, and perhaps it is consistent with the 
  My staff has been unable to find a single instance where the House 
took up a Senate-originated appropriations bill in over 100 years, 
since 1901.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has used 9 minutes.
  Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Chair.
  Our friends in the House have been unequivocal: The Senate must pass 
the House bill. Speaker Boehner said, ``Senate Republicans and Senate 
Democrats must stand together with the American people and block the 
President's actions.''

 =========================== NOTE =========================== 

  On page S749, February 4, 2015, in the third column, the 
following language appears: . . . Senator Boehner said, ``Senate . 
. .
  The online Record has been corrected to read: . . . Speaker 
Boehner said, ``Senate . . .

 ========================= END NOTE ========================= 

  House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said the Senate, 
``should pass the bill, which funds a very vital national security 
agency but also turns back this blanket amnesty which is illegal and 
  That is where we are. The House has sent over the right bill. It does 
the right thing. It defends the integrity of the Congress. It defends 
the wishes of the American people, it defends the policy decision of 
the Congress of the United States, and prohibits the President from 
doing what he himself said over 20 different times he did not have the 
power to do. Professor after professor and historians have said the 
President doesn't have the power to do it. If the President can do 
this, if he can execute laws Congress has rejected, what will he be 
able to do in the future?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I thank the Chair, and I yield the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.

[[Page S750]]

  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up 
to 20 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.