Two GOP Senators ripped Democrat members — and the GOP chairman of their committee — during a hearing Wednesday, just after three Democrat senators simultaneously lamented the crush of migrants while prodding border officials to allow more migrants through the border.
“I’m disgusted with how Congress is handling all this,” Florida Sen. Rick Scott told the witness panel of two officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and one official from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit. Scott continued his criticism of the Senate and Democrat senators while also following Senate rules which bar direct criticism of senators:
You could not make this up. We [in Congress] don’t want to secure our border, then people complain you’re not doing your job. I think it is disgusting what people are doing … I’ve been here six months. I’m disgusted that we sit here and you watch on the news people get [criticized] and Congress does not do its job. It is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in my entire career, in my business career. You wouldn’t do this in a business career.
Scott’s comments were made during a June 26 hearing of the Senate homeland security committee.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley also ripped the Senate and the Democrat senators while addressing the three border witnesses:
The behavior of this Congress is absolutely pathetic. I mean it is just pathetic. People up here should be apologizing to you for the total dereliction of duty that this Congress has undertaken. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. This is by my count the sixth hearing, full hearing, I’ve sat in on the border, — which is great, I’m glad we’re paying some attention to it — but the problem is that this Congress never does anything. This Congress refuses to do anything.
For good measure, Hawley charged the Democrat senators with insincerity, saying:
This morning I’ve heard, just from my colleagues across the aisle this morning, I’ve heard statements “I’m heartbroken,” “No-one is more vulnerable than a child,” “The status quo is unacceptable,” is “unsustainable,” but yet we don’t do anything to change it, and there is no will to change it.
Children are being exploited. This morning we woke up to the picture of the man from El Salvador and his young daughter, dead, face down in the water. Why? Because they were exploited. Who knows how much that poor gentleman paid to some smuggling ring who told him that if he just came to the United States, to our border, and claimed asylum, he’d automatically get in. That was a lie. Who knows what lies he was told? And here he ends up, he and his little baby, dead and this Congress refuse to act. I mean, it is absolutely unconscionable. We know what needs to be done, nobody will do it, My view is that we can talk and talk and talk, but until this Congress is willing to take some action … until this wretched Congress decides to do something, I don’t know we even bother to have these hearings, I don’t why it even matters because this Congress will not act. This Congress refuses to act, and it is a complete dereliction of duty.
The two senators’ breach of Senate etiquette came after the chairman, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, outlined his plans for closed-door bipartisan discussion on the partisan disagreements, and after three Democrat senators used their time to criticize recent border security improvements.
The top Democrat on the panel, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, first used his time to spotlight the two dead migrants from El Salvador:
This is a horrific criminal enterprise that exploits people arriving a the southern border and really all across our country. Desperation drives people into the hands of human traffickers and that same desperation drives some families to attempt a journey to the north on their own, and, like the chairman and I think everyone on the committee, I speak for all of us, we were devasted by the photo showing Óscar Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria, who drowned clinging together, in the final moments as they attempted to cross the Rio Grande for asylum here in the United States.
No-one is more vulnerable than a child, and like most Americans, I am heartbroken that migrant children in U.S. custody — including toddlers and infants — have been subjected to unsafe conditions and sometimes, denied basic necessities. It is unconscionable that the administration would argue in court that it should not be required to provide soap and a toothbrush for a child in its custody. Even prisoners of war are provided with soap …
Many adult migrants say they are bringing children up to the border to trigger the catch-and-release loopholes that were created and are defended by Democrats.
But Peters declined to mention the loopholes’ critical role in the migration. For more than a year, Democrat legislators have blocked GOP proposals to close or even narrow the loopholes which helped bring the drowned girl to the river.
New Hampshire Sen. Democrat Sen. Hassan shifted the topic to drugs, then revived the Democrats’ call for a “comprehensive immigration reform” bill, complete with amnesty. She next cited claims by immigration lawyers that migrants are treated badly and quickly rebuked a CBP witness for disagreeing with those claims, saying, “I am a member of the bar in New Hampshire … I doubt very strongly that any attorney would be fabricating this information.”
The outspoken witness, Brian Hastings, chief of CBP’s Law Enforcement Operations Directorate, had angered Hassan by noting that “those are the plaintiffs’ attorneys who have cases against the government.”
Democrat Sen. Jackie Rosen, also brought up the photograph — saying “I do pray that his photo … moves this body into action.” But she also pressured the border patrol officials to scale back the successful “Remain in Mexico” and the “metering” programs which are reducing catch-and-release numbers and the crush of migrants in the jammed border-patrol stations.
The “conditions for children, young families [at border patrol sites] … nothing in my mind is more heartbreaking,” Rosen added.
Democrat Peters bemoaned the “tragic situation” and then urged the border officers to relax their border checks — including DNA checks — so that migrants are allowed to bring in children who are not their own children. “How do you define a fraudulent family?” he asked the witnesses.
GOP spending chief Sen. Shelby surrenders to Democrats: He lets them include their pro-migration policies in the border budget yet he urges GOP passivity. Then Dems smear GOP for the crisis which the Dems encourage, yet Shelby thanks them for their 'tone' https://t.co/ABpJbbmRdU
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) June 21, 2019
Throughout the hearing, Johnson tried to smooth the visible disagreements among his committee members. When Peters complained about the DNA testing — “these were not random samples of families” — Johnson replied that the cost was just $200 a test.
After Scott and Hawley made their views clear, Johnson repeated his promise to hold a closed-door discussion in as “nonpartisan and non-inflamed way as possible.”
“Senator Peters is working with me,” he told Scott and Hawley.
“I don’t believe any of this,” Scott replied.
“I’m hoping this process will be different,” responded Johnson. “This photograph [of the drowned migrants] ought to catalyze us.”
Democrat Sen. Tom Carper also responded to Scott and Hawley, saying, “I think this committee attracts people who like to get things done, to work across the aisle … we [Democrats] also see an opportunity to fix it … I’m not interested in pointing blame.”
But Arizona’s Democrat Sen. Krysten Sinema spilled the beans, telling the GOP Senators that Democrats will use Johnson’s closed-door meetings to push for even faster border processing of asylum-seeking migrants: “How do we help process families [into the United States] in a timely manner … while also sending a clear message back these [Central American] northern triangle countries that this is not an effective strategy to get into the United States of America?”
“It is going to be difficult,” Sinema added.
Democrats have been claiming for 30 months that Trump is breaking the law. But Speaker Pelosi just repudiated of her constitutional role by urging officials to ignore judges' 1 million due-process deportation orders. Estb. media is mute. https://t.co/u09O0iNwZy
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) June 26, 2019