The Senate Democrats who have been preventing a House-passed Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill from getting to the Senate floor for debate are charging Republicans with holding up DHS funding because the GOP has not offered a “clean bill.”
“ISIS is funded, we see that everyday on TV. The American people care about a lot of things but at the top of there list they know our homeland needs to be secure,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said at a Tuesday press conference flanked by more than two dozen Democratic senators.
Reid pointed to recent terrorist atrocities and threats, calling on Republicans to put a bill Democrats would vote for on the table.
“[The American people] can’t get out of their mind’s eye, any better than I can, watching a video of 22 minutes while someone in a cage is burned to death. Twenty-one Christians in Egypt are beheaded a few days ago,” Reid continued. “This is something I can’t imagine why we have fiddled around here for four weeks and not a thing has happened on homeland security. And what Sen. McConnell moved to the floor last night has nothing to do with funding Homeland Security. ”
The Nevada Democrat was referring to a move by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night to bring a bill that simply targets President Obama’s most recent executive amnesty to the floor for a vote — outside of the House-passed DHS funding package, which blocks all Obama’s executive actions on immigration — as a way to help get “unsuck” from the Democratic filibuster.
“I agree with George Will, I agree with Sen. Graham. That the burden is on the Republicans. What they are doing is wrong for the country and they not only should be blamed, they will be blamed for what is going on,” Reid said.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) made an appeal that first responders must be funded in order to “save us.”
“They need us to do our job so they can do their job. They need the resources of the federal government to be able to be on their side so that they can be at your side in your own community when trouble hits you,” she said.
Mikulski recalled the bravery of the first responders during the attacks on September 11, 2001 and pointed out that they remain.
“Now those brave people are still out there, they’re still trying to do their job. I want them to have $680 million in the federal checkbook that they can compete for, but Homeland Security can’t put out the grant money unless we pass full funding,” she said, adding that a continuing resolution would not include that grant money for fire departments and first responders.
Another Democrat who spoke, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) accused Republicans of waging an ideological battle against Obama’s executive actions at the expense of DHS.
“The American people are counting on us to put safety ahead of partisan politics,” she said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) pointed to the recent video terrorist threat against her state.
“The people of my state on Sunday morning woke up to a video and it was a video of a terrorist member of Al Shabaab… they woke up to the video of this terrorist telling the world that they should go in and attack the Mall of America in Minnesota, a mall in Canada, and a mall in London. That is what they woke up to,” she said.
Klobuchar recounted that security was beefed up and the administration said people should continue to go to the mall. The Minnesota lawmaker noted that she visited mall employees Sunday night and told them “that we would stand tall for them.”
“When we look at what happened in Paris, the cyber security attack in North Korea, we know that this is a time when we should be stepping up our security, not stepping down our security,” she said.
“I just call on our Republican friends to get this bill done, get these firefighters funded to fund our security, and not to send a message to Al Shabaab that we’re just going to shutdown homeland security. That cannot be coming from the people of America,” Klobuchar said.