Statement Of Appropriations Vice Chairman Leahy At The First Meeting Of The Homeland Security Appropriations Conference

We are all glad that the senseless 35 day shutdown has come to an end, and that the Appropriations Committee can get to work and try to come up with something that makes sense for the American people. 

I believe we can reach a bipartisan agreement that funds the government and secures our country and our borders.  But our choices about how to allocate American taxpayer dollars must be grounded in reality.  We need to address problems with solutions rooted in facts, not merely rooted in campaign rhetoric.  And we need solutions that honor American values and who we are as a nation. 

We all support border security, and will continue to support border security, but we are for smart border security.  In fiscal year 2018, Democrats supported $22.5 billion related to border security and immigration enforcement. 

This included investments in our ports of entry; inspection equipment to detect illicit contraband coming through our ports of entry; aircraft to monitor our sprawling border from above and quickly respond to emergencies; video surveillance systems and radar systems to detect movement in remote locations; assistance to Central America to address the root problems causing people to flee their countries and come to America; and immigration judges to process asylum cases. 

These are smart uses of taxpayer dollars.  These are effective solutions that I think we can all agree on.  By looking to areas of agreement, I believe we can get to a package that works for both our Committees and the American people. 

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have a proud tradition of solving tough problems through hard work, compromise, and bipartisanship.  This should be no different.  

Rarely has the work of the Appropriations Committees been watched as closely as it is today.  The American people are depending on us to get our job done.

The Constitution says, in Article 1, Section 9: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”  This is our responsibility, not to be ceded to any other Branch of government.

I look forward to working with Chairman Shelby, Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Granger and all the conferees to reach an agreement for the American people.   

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