Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona's only Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, today released a statement calling on House leadership to continue next week's special session until Members pass a critical border security package. The Senate last night unanimously approved a $600 million emergency funding bill for the border, which included parts of the larger border security measures Rep. Kirkpatrick helped push through the House, but adjourned without acting on her legislation.
Rep. Kirkpatrick's statement was as follows:
"For days, Congress has been debating and deliberating over border security funding that both houses and both parties agree we need. In the meantime, Arizonans have once again been forced to sit and wait for the federal government to get its act together.
"The Senate did not approve everything we have been working for. It is extremely frustrating that they chose to once again pass the buck to the House instead of passing our bill to take action right away. However, this legislation will still be a valuable step in the right direction towards securing the border, and we cannot allow further delays.
"Now it is time to say enough is enough -- enough partisan maneuvering, enough political posturing, enough petty Washington games. We have to put our security first and get the job done.
"With a special session scheduled for next week, we have an opportunity to break through the gridlock. Unlike the Senate, the House has managed to move this funding forward several times before, and they should do it again -- by committing to not ending this session without passing the border security bill."
Shortly before adjourning last night, the Senate passed legislation including critical steps Rep. Kirkpatrick has been working for to help secure the border. However, they did not address H.R. 5875, a $701 million package the Congresswoman championed in the House that would have gone further to accomplish the same goals.
Among other measures, the Senate bill will allow for 1,000 new U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents, 250 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel and 250 new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers; help strengthen operations for CBP, ICE, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; support efforts to detain criminal illegal immigrants in the federal prison system; send much-needed communication equipment to border security personnel; make it possible to deploy unmanned aerial systems ("drones"); set up forward operating bases for the Border Patrol; make critical improvements to help U.S. attorneys and the courts handle border-related crime; and bolster anti-corruption efforts. It is fully paid for.
In recent weeks, Rep. Kirkpatrick has stepped up her fight to secure funding to expand the USBP and deploy additional security personnel and resources to the border. She helped push H.R. 5875 through the House last Wednesday night, on the heels of the Senate stripping support for strengthening security from the Supplemental Appropriations Act and the House failing to restore it despite the Congresswoman's advocacy. On Friday, she sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) specifically demanding they not adjourn for the August district working period before passing this bill -- a responsibility the Senate chose not to live up to.
The original measure was written into the Supplemental Appropriations Act after months of pressure from the Congresswoman and many other Arizonans who have been calling for the Border Patrol to be expanded. In May, Rep. Kirkpatrick introduced the Southern Border Security Act requiring 3,500 new USBP agents to be hired, trained and deployed at the U.S.-Mexican border by the end of next year.
Rep. Kirkpatrick has already advocated for the House to act on her low-cost job creation bills during the special session, and is arguing for this step as part of a wider effort to make Washington stop the partisan warfare and start working on common-sense solutions to the challenges Arizonans face.