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In Case You Missed It: On Senate Floor, Shaheen Urges Bipartisan Compromise to Keep the Government Open & Enhance Border Security

Floor 1.28.19

**SHAHEEN: Protecting our borders shouldn’t be an exercise in partisanship** 

**Watch Shaheen’s remarks in full here**

(Washington, DC) – Last night, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate Floor to urge members of both parties to work across the aisle to keep the government open. Shaheen highlighted the lasting effects of the government shutdown and emphasized the necessity of passing bipartisan legislation to secure our borders and fund the government in order to avoid another shutdown.

“This shutdown should never have happened,” Shaheen said, noting the negative impacts of the shutdown on the country. “For 35 days, partisan gamesmanship forced government agencies to close their doors, and more than 380,000 federal workers were furloughed and another 450,000 employees worked without pay… Unfortunately the prolonged economic effect of the shutdown, and the morale of the federal workforce, are going to last much longer. A report released today by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that during the shutdown, the economy took an $11 billion hit, including $3 billion that's gone forever, that we are never going to be able to recover. When people aren’t paid, they don’t shop. They don’t travel. They miss payments. They default on loans. They can’t participate in our economy if they have nothing in the bank.”

Shaheen continued by emphasizing the necessity of passing bipartisan legislation to secure our borders and fund the government in order to avoid another shutdown, noting “The American people, our economy, can’t afford another partisan shutdown that jeopardizes our federal workforce and does nothing to increase border security. Our focus now needs to be on working together to pass bipartisan legislation that secures our borders and funds our government. Protecting our borders shouldn’t be an exercise in partisanship, and in the past, in the Senate, we’ve been able to garner support from across the ideological spectrum to fund common sense proposals that provide effective security.”

Shaheen then noted that Congress has increased funding for Customs and Border Protection each of the past five fiscal years, providing nearly $60 billion for the agency. Senator Shaheen is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Homeland Security, and voted in favor of providing $1.3 billion for border fencing on the southern border just last year. These funds have yet to be spent on the actual construction of proposed fencing projects.

Shaheen has consistently supported border security, noting, “We need to build on these proposals moving forward. We need to focus on technology, on infrastructure. We need to focus on the personnel who are needed at the southern and northern borders to provide actual security that works... We have worked in a bipartisan manner to secure our borders. I have supported funding for targeted fencing in vulnerable areas, funding more border patrol agents, for better surveillance, for screening technologies and for increased security at Ports of Entry, and I intend to continue to support common sense efforts such as these. Unfortunately, providing billions of dollars to fulfill a campaign promise to build a wall that has no plan that’s been presented for how to do that, is really not a serious proposal. It’s unlikely to solve the problems that it seeks to address.”

Shaheen noted that efforts to secure the border must focus on solutions that will stem the flow of opioids, fentanyl and other drugs that have hurt New Hampshire communities, and that truly comprehensive border security proposals must recognize the threat at our northern border and invest in technologies to address the unique challenges that law enforcement faces as well. Additionally, Shaheen emphasized the necessity of improving the functioning of our immigration court system in order to adjudicate immigration cases fairly and expeditiously and take steps to reduce our enormous immigration court case backlog. 

In conclusion, Shaheen urged bipartisan compromise on border security, “It’s time for all of us, Republicans and Democrats, to put aside gamesmanship and to support common sense proposals. It is my hope that the conference committee that’s already been appointed to negotiate funding for the Department of Homeland Security will focus on the solutions that work rather than proposals that score political points. This shutdown took an enormous economic and emotional toll, not only on our federal workforce but on everyone who accesses government services. As we craft a bipartisan proposal to fund the government and secure our borders, let’s not forget the impact that that has had on the people we serve and on the potential impact if we don’t get this resolved by February 15.”