House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (TX-31) is blasting Democratic Senate leadership for failing to immediately debate and pass a 2012 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill, effectively blocking Texas from receiving FEMA disaster funds for the catastrophic wildfires sweeping the southwestern states.
"Democrat Senate leadership is once again flagrantly refusing to do their job and pass necessary appropriations," says Carter. "By delaying action on this bill, the Democratic leadership in the Senate is putting the security of American citizens at risk and disaster relief efforts on hold," Carter said on the House floor.
The House debated and passed the fiscal year 2012 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act on June 2. The bill cuts $1.1 billion from 2011 funding levels while ensuring that all frontline defenders, including the Border Patrol, Coast Guard and Secret Service remain fully funded. The House-passed bill also includes $1 billion in supplemental funding for FEMA's disaster relief program that is available immediately upon passage, which would provide disaster relief to Texas wildfire victims.
FEMA last week approved a request by the State of Texas for a fire management assistance declaration for the Grand Mesa Fire burning in Travis and Williamson Counties. At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 800 homes, and there were 40 other fires burning uncontrolled within the State.
However, the Senate's announced postponement of consideration blocks further action on release of FY2012 funds.
"This Congress needs to return to historic regular order if we are to have a chance to overcome the serious deficit challenge facing this country," says Carter. "For those who have forgotten how we handled the budget over the past two hundred-plus years, it is fairly simple. The House passes their version of a spending bill, the Senate passes their version of the same, then we appoint a conference to sit down and work out the differences. By refusing regular order, Senate Democrats are apparently intentionally leaving the appropriations process in a permanent state of pending disaster, under which Democrats can continue to extort massive job-killing deficit spending. And in this case they are using the homeland security of the United States as a pawn."