(House of Representatives - January 15, 2019)

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[Pages H594-H597]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2019, the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. 
Loudermilk) for 30 minutes.
  Mr. LOUDERMILK. Madam Speaker, I also want to thank my colleagues 
from the Freedom Caucus for the hour that they spent sharing with the 
American people the facts and the statistics of what is happening at 
our southern border because of the inaction of Congress over quite a 
long time.
  As a historian, I love this building. I love the Capitol. I love 
spending time

[[Page H595]]

in this Chamber just thinking about the history of our Nation and the 
historical moments that have taken place in here.
  I love giving tours of the Capitol to constituents when they come. I 
bring them into this Chamber and, as they sit here, I share with them 
that it is from this rostrum behind me that President Franklin 
Roosevelt gave his day of infamy speech.
  We walk down the hallway and we go to the rotunda, the magnificent 
rotunda that has portraits hanging in the rotunda that depict the 
history of America. I share with them about how this is the greatest 
legislative body in the history of the world.
  We have become the envy of other nations, our deliberative bodies, 
for the strength of America and all that we have accomplished in this 
Nation, the mind-boggling things that we have accomplished, from 
aerospace to business and the ingenuity of America, because of the 
strength of our freedom that has been built by a legislative body that 
brings the different sides together and negotiates to come up with 
solutions, solutions that are good for America.
  Our strength isn't because we have always agreed. No, we, quite 
frankly, disagree. And our disagreements go back to the beginning of 
our Nation.
  In that rotunda is a portrait portraying a turning point in American 
history, a very critical part of American history. It happened during 
the Second Continental Congress, when our predecessors, those who came 
before us, the representative body that we now represent, were faced 
with a very critical decision. That decision was whether to vote in 
favor of declaring independence against Great Britain.
  There were strong advocates, very strong advocates in favor of 
independence. One of those was John Adams from Massachusetts. John 
Adams was strongly in favor of independence and spoke very passionately 
of voting in favor of independence. But just as strongly as John Adams 
was in favor of independence, you had John Dickinson from Pennsylvania 
who also was as strongly opposed to independence.

  They continued to debate all aspects of whether they should declare 
independence. And, in fact, there were others who disagreed, even to 
the point where the first vote for independence failed.
  But Dr. Benjamin Franklin understood the power of negotiating, the 
power of compromise, the power of bringing two sides together, and he 
began to negotiate. He began to bring the sides together. And by the 
time they took the second and final vote for independence, he had 
garnered enough votes to actually pass the motion to declare our 
independence from Great Britain.
  Now, the difference between John Adams and John Dickinson wasn't that 
they disagreed on the problem they were facing. No, they both agreed 
that there were atrocities committed on the American Colonies by Great 
Britain. They only disagreed on how to deal with it.
  As I mention that, and as you know from history, the second vote 
barely passed. John Dickinson remained opposed to declaring 
independence. In fact, he voted ``no'' on the resolution when it was 
brought before the floor. However, as soon as the resolution passed, 
John Dickinson left Philadelphia, and he joined the fight for 

                              {time}  1800

  We are at an impasse here in this historic Chamber today, not because 
we have a differing opinion, but because we are even refusing to come 
together to lay out the facts, to lay out the ideas, and to lay out the 
various solutions to this problem.
  We are the greatest, most powerful, and most influential legislative 
body in the world. We have been the envy of the entire world. Other 
nations have modeled or tried to model their legislative bodies after 
ours. But we should be embarrassed to where we are today because the 
system is broken, and it isn't broken because of a design flaw. It is 
broken because of what we have turned this into. We have broken the 
system because we have chosen to ignore our own rules, our own laws, 
and our own procedures.
  Most Americans may not realize it, but we have a deadline. We have a 
deadline every year of September 30 to fully fund the government. But 
the last time that was done was in the 1990s. We have continued to kick 
the can down the road. Every September we get to the point that we just 
do a continuing resolution, and we put it off to another date and to 
another date until we get to a point that creates a crisis and we must 
fund the government. Then somebody holds the funding of the government 
hostage for whatever political partisan reason that they want.
  The 4 years I have been in Congress I have worked diligently with 
others to try to change this status quo system of ignoring our own 
laws, rules, and procedures and consolidating the power of 
appropriations to just a few who get to call the shots and allow others 
to hold the American workers, the citizens, and the businesses that 
rely on those workers who were furloughed, hold them all hostage in our 
political partisan wrangling. I don't like where we are. I don't like 
the way the process is broken. We should not be here because we should 
have fully funded the entire government before the end of September.
  Now, to give credit where credit is due, over the last couple of 
years the House Republicans have made great efforts to try to 
accomplish that. In 2017, we were actually able to pass all 12 of our 
appropriations bills out of this Chamber before the deadline. It didn't 
happen in the Senate, but we were able to do it here. This year we made 
an even greater accomplishment; we passed several of them. We passed 
five out of here that also went to the Senate. The Senate passed it. It 
went to the President's desk, and he signed it. But it is those 
remaining appropriations bills that have us where we are today, because 
we did not follow our own rules.
  I don't like it. Most of the Members I know on our side don't like 
it. My dad, a World War II veteran, used to give me a piece of advice. 
He said: Son, if there is something in life you don't like, you have 
two choices. You can do something to change the situation or just 
accept the status quo and go on with your life. But complaining never 
accomplishes anything.
  We are at an impasse where two sides have dug in on what they both 
claim are ideological principles. Let's look at where we are. One side, 
the Republican side, believes that the drug trafficking, the weapon 
trafficking, human trafficking, sex trafficking, and terrorist travel 
coming across the border is a national security and humanitarian 
crisis. In fact, the Vice President, when he met with us last week, 
used those words, that this is a national security and a humanitarian 
crisis we have at the border. The President of the United States also 
agrees that we have a crisis at the border.
  However, the other side that is also dug in, the Democrats, don't 
believe that we have a crisis. In fact, the talking points of the day 
have been, as you heard earlier, that the crisis has been manufactured, 
that the desire to build a border wall or a physical barrier is a 
vanity project for the President, or as one reporter stated as he was 
at the border, he said: Things are tranquil here.
  So we have one side claiming a crisis, and the other side claiming 
  I believe we do have a crisis at the border. I believe that that 
crisis is real and that crisis has been going on for quite some time. 
As you can see on the board next to me here, I am not the only one who 
believes that, not only do we have a crisis but we have had a crisis 
that has existed for quite some time.
  The President of the United States in 2014 stated: ``We now have an 
actual humanitarian crisis on the border.'' In fact, what he said was: 
``We now have an actual humanitarian crisis on the border that only 
underscores the need to drop the politics and fix our immigration 
system once and for all.''
  Now, some of you who are watching on television right now will look 
at that and immediately attribute that to our current President, 
President Trump. But if you think back, Mr. Speaker, the President of 
the United States in 2014 was President Barack Obama. He is the one who 
said: Yes, we do have a crisis. It is a humanitarian crisis at the 
  But today my Democratic colleagues on the other side say that the 
crisis doesn't exist, that it is manufactured, and that it is a 
conspiracy. It really doesn't exist. Things are tranquil.

[[Page H596]]

  Well then you have to ask the question: What changed?
  We must have done something significant during that time period. But 
nothing has changed. We still have the status quo when it comes to our 
border and border security.
  In fact, President Obama went on to say: ``In recent weeks we've seen 
a surge of unaccompanied children arrive at the border, brought here 
and to other countries by smugglers and traffickers.''
  ``The journey is unbelievably dangerous for these kids. The children 
who are fortunate enough to survive it will be taken care of while they 
go through the legal process, but in most cases that process will lead 
them to being sent back home.''
  This is exactly what our current President is saying. We have a 
humanitarian crisis as well as a national security crisis. In fact, for 
the 4 years I have served in Congress, I have been saying that our 
crisis at the border should not be categorized just as an immigration 
crisis, but it is a national security crisis.

  When I served on the Homeland Security Committee, we had many 
briefings by the then-Obama administration Department of Homeland 
Security who went through all of what was going on at the border, the 
crossings at the border, the drugs, the weapons, and who they were 
intercepting, and I identified at that time that we had a crisis at the 
  But this issue at the border goes beyond even the time I have been in 
Congress. It has been going on for decades. It is a decades-old problem 
that because of status quo, because of the broken system that we are 
working under, because politicians are comfortable with the status quo, 
we have not done anything to address it.
  In 2006, I was serving in the State legislature in Georgia. I was a 
young businessman who didn't like the way things were going in the 
State, so I took the advice of my father that if there is something in 
life you don't like, do something to change the situation. So I ran for 
the State house, and I was elected.
  We were dealing with issues in Georgia of immigration. In fact, a 
young man by the name of Dustin Inman had lost his life because an 
illegal immigrant driving drunk hit the car killing Dustin Inman and 
permanently making his mom disabled. It appeared to us that the Federal 
Government, the Congress in Washington, D.C. wasn't doing anything to 
fix the situation, so a group of legislators got together.
  We said: Look, we may have to address some of this on our own. So we 
will go to the border. We will spend several days at the border to see 
what is going on ourselves.
  While I was at the border, I spent time with Border Patrol agents. We 
went up and down the border. They showed us where the physical barriers 
were working, but they also showed us where they had problems, and it 
was usually where the physical barrier ended. They shared with us the 
lack of funding that they had and the lack of adequate Border Patrol 
agents. They told us of the dangers that they were facing, but they 
also told us the frustrations of catch and release.
  We also spent the night with a rancher, after we had met with several 
residents who lived along the border. They were telling us the horrific 
stories of crime that were going on on their property and in their 
neighborhoods, because of the cartel activity going on at the border. 
While we sat at this rancher's home that evening--because of the lack 
of the adequate number of Border Patrol agents, he had to set up his 
own security systems and surveillance systems just to protect his 
property and protect his employees on his ranch.
  We sat in his home that evening watching on infrared night vision 
cameras. You could see coyotes, those who were helping to bring 
illegals across into the United States, as they would congregate inside 
of Mexico and they would move up to where there was a physical barrier, 
a border wall.
  I asked him: At this point, what is going to happen? Are they going 
to scale the barrier?
  He said: No. They are just staging. All they are going to do is move 
a few miles down that wall to where the wall doesn't exist, and they 
will walk right across into the United States.
  That is exactly what happened. We watched as they came into the 
United States, they ran to a gully, and they hid in a gully until 
somebody came and picked them up. By the time the Border Patrol was 
able to get there, they were long gone.
  I kept a journal. The other day I went back, and I pulled that 
journal out from 2006. I was reading over my experiences, and I got to 
the last entry of that journal that I wrote when I got home. That 
journal said: I believe the government in Washington, D.C., doesn't 
want to solve the problem at our southern border.
  Again, they are happy with the status quo.
  Americans have been asking Congress to do something, not just about 
illegal immigration but about the drugs coming across into our Nation. 
As you heard earlier, the Department of Homeland Security has 
intercepted enough fentanyl used in opioids to kill nearly two-thirds 
of the entire population of the United States. They want us to do 
something about the sex trafficking, other drugs coming across the 
border, weapons, criminal activity, human trafficking, and terrorism, 
the terrorists who are traveling across the border.
  But we can't solve any of these issues nor reopen this government 
until we are willing and ready to come together and have a national 
debate, a debate about the merits of each side. Each side needs to come 
forward and present what their priorities are and what their ideas are 
for the solutions.
  Republicans have done that. We have laid out several different ideas 
and several different solutions. We have yet to hear anything from our 
colleagues on the other side except for the word no.
  We must lay out our priorities. We must lay out our ideas, not just 
hurl insults at each side.
  Then we must debate, and the debate must be based on truth, on facts, 
not perceptions and not accusations. It has to be based on what is best 
for the American people, not what is best for the politicians or 
political victory or preparing for the next election.
  If we are going to get to this place there has to be some things that 
take place. First of all, we have to have meetings, we have to have 
discussion, and we have to have negotiation. Just as Dr. Benjamin 
Franklin did at the onset of this Nation, he brought the parties 
together in meetings. They began discussing, and then they started 
negotiating. That is how they came up with compromise.
  You have to have all three. You can't have one without the other. You 
can't have a discussion without first having a meeting.
  Two weeks ago, congressional leaders were invited to the White House 
to; first of all, have a meeting to discuss, Where do we go from here 
to end the shutdown; to do something about border security; to move 
  But the answer given to the President when he asked was: Are you 
willing to negotiate border security which includes building a physical 

  The answer was no, end of story, end of discussion.
  Meetings aren't effective unless you actually are able to have a 
discussion and both sides are willing to negotiate.
  Mr. Speaker, you also have to be able to deal with facts. Both sides 
have to be able to deal with facts. Again, the President invited 
leadership of the House to the White House to the Situation Room to 
discuss the facts and the issues that you have heard several of here 
  However, as the Secretary of Homeland Security began to go through 
these issues one by one, she was interrupted by the Speaker of the 
House, Ms. Pelosi, and was told that she wasn't interested in hearing 
the facts. In fact, according to a news media report, it was, ``I 
reject your facts.''
  Secretary Nielsen said: ``These aren't my facts, they are the 
  So we have to be able to deal with the truth, the facts. One question 
that I am always asked back home is: Your colleagues on the other side 
of the aisle continue to say they are for border security, they are for 
national security and they just don't want a wall.
  Well, that is a question I have. So when the Democrats rejected the 
facts that came from the Department of Homeland Security about the 
atrocities that are going on, the criminal activities going on at the 
border, the President took it upon himself, and he sent it to Members 
of Congress. Immediately upon receiving this data, my

[[Page H597]]

colleagues and my friends on the other side started dismissing the 

                              {time}  1815

  When it came out in 2017 that the Department of Homeland Security 
intercepted 3,755 terrorists, that number was immediately challenged. 
And the other side was quick to point out, well, not all of those were 
caught at the border.
  And they were right; not all were caught at the southern border. In 
fact, they properly pointed out that many of them were caught at our 
ports of entry at airports, so we should focus in that area and not on 
a border wall, even though a number were caught at the border.
  Well, that is fine. They say they are for border security; however, I 
question that because, when President Trump, in his first year in 
office, identified this very problem, that we had terrorists coming in 
from nations that are known to harbor, train, and fund terrorists and 
he tried to put a travel ban on people coming in from those countries, 
the Democrats objected to it and actually took it to court and tried to 
stop him from actually implementing that.
  So it leads to the question: Do they really want border security?
  When the statistic came out that 6,000 illegals associated with gangs 
have been apprehended by ICE, again my colleagues challenged that 
statistic and brought up that, well, only 800 gang members were 
actually apprehended at the southern border--only 800.
  Just the other day, the district attorney of one of the largest 
counties in Georgia said that the greatest threat to Georgians today is 
gangs. And, as we started looking at how do these gang members come in, 
our colleagues on the other side adequately pointed out that most of 
these gang members were not coming across the border, but they were 
here as a result of visa overstays. ``But we really do want border 
security, so we should address that.''
  Last year, H.R. 4760, in June, was brought to this floor, which 
actually made visa overstays a Federal misdemeanor, but my colleagues 
on the other side--every one of them--voted against that bill.
  The Department of Homeland Security also put out the statistic that 
17,000 adults were detained at the southern border with criminal 
records. The other side has made the argument that these are just 
families that want a better life.
  Again, they have rejected the facts. So my question is: Do they 
really want border security? Are they really willing to come to the 
table and lay out what their priorities for border security really are?
  Is it port security at our airports? Well, obviously, they opposed 
the President when he took that route.
  Is it addressing visa overstays? Well, obviously they voted against 
that bill when we brought it forward.
  Do they really want to keep the government open and address border 
security? Well, they all voted against the continuing resolution the 
Republicans brought to the floor back in December and opted to close 
the government.
  Do I believe that my colleagues want terrorists to come into the 
Nation? No, I do not.
  Do I believe they want more gang members to infiltrate our 
communities? No, I don't believe that is what they want.
  I don't believe they don't think that there is a crisis at the 
border. I just think that they are happy with the status quo.
  You see, this city often runs on people who have learned how to 
navigate the swamp. They learn how to use the status quo to their 
  And if you go back and you look over the history of this Nation, 
especially the modern history of this body of Congress, we are still 
debating several of the issues that we were debating 10, 15, and 20 
years ago. It seems that these become campaign issues more than they 
are issues that we want to resolve for the American people. Why? 
Because we don't want to address the status quo.
  What we have in the White House right now is a President whose main 
objective is to change the status quo in Washington, to change the way 
we do things. Those ideas I support because what we are doing now is 
broken. The way we are doing it now is broken.
  There is only one way out of this situation. It is for my colleagues 
from the other side of the aisle to actually agree to attend the 
  In fact, the President opened up the White House today for another 
meeting to start discussing and hopefully get to negotiations, but the 
leadership on the Democratic side refused to even show up.
  We offered several compromises last year in December to avoid the 
shutdown, but the resounding response we received from the other side 
was ``no.'' Every attempt that we have brought to this floor to try to 
resolve the situation at the border has been met with a resounding 
  At some point, we have to get away from our own partisan political 
wrangling and understand that what we are doing is for the safety and 
the security of the American people. It is time to quit just saying 
``no'' and say ``but if.''
  I appreciate every person who was elected to represent the American 
people, but now is the time to sit down, to have a discussion, and to 
begin to negotiate so we can reopen the government and, more 
importantly, ensure the safety and the security of all Americans.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.