I don’t think we have great debates in the Senate any more, but occasionally we have great speeches. A great speech requires a momentous occasion, and the effort to block President Obama’s unconstitutional usurpation of power, while defending American workers, is such an occasion.
I am not sure what machinations are unfolding in Washington. Some reports suggest that Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republican leadership are in the process of caving in to the Democrats. But as usual, it is Jeff Sessions who raises the banner of constitutional government and defense of American workers. Here are excerpts from the speech he delivered on the Senate floor today:
A number of things have been happening today with regard to the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. There’s been a lot of spin about that and that somehow the Republicans are blocking the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. This gives new meaning to the word “obfuscation,” I suppose, or “disingenuousness.” The truth is, the House of Representatives has fully funded the Department of Homeland Security. It’s provided the level of funding the President asked for. It’s kept all the accounts at Homeland Security as approved through the congressional process. It simply says, but, Mr. President, we considered your bill, this amnesty bill that will provide work permits, photo IDs, Social Security numbers, Medicare benefits. You can’t do that. We considered that and rejected it. So we’re not going to fund that.
Now, the President has told us and his staff that they have across the river in Crystal City, they’re leasing a new building and this building is going to hire a thousand workers, paid for by the taxpayers of the United States, part of Homeland Security. Are those thousand workers going to be utilized to enforce the laws of the United States? Are they going to process applications for citizenship or visas? No. Those 1,000 people, costing several hundred million dollars, in truth, those people are going to be processing and providing these benefits to people unlawfully in America…
So Congress says, wait a minute, we didn’t authorize money for that. You can’t spend money to fund exactly the opposite of what we’ve enacted. So we’re just going to put some language in the bill, the normal bill that funds Homeland Security, and say you can’t spend the money to violate the law. You can only spend the money to enforce the law, like you were supposed to do. And the bill comes to the Senate and what spectacle do we have? We have the Democratic members in lockstep unity blocking even proceeding to this bill. And they contend that we’re not funding Homeland Security. Can you imagine that? …
Congress is a coequal branch. It’s not subordinate to the President. If anything, the Constitution provides even more power to the legislative…. The most power in Congress is the power of the purse. Congress is not obligated to pay for anything it believes is unwise, and it has an absolute duty not to fund anything that’s unconstitutional or illegal, which is what we’re dealing with here. So the House of Representatives acted wisely, properly, funding Homeland Security and not allowing activities to be carried out that are unlawful and that Congress has rejected…
How my colleagues have the gall to come to the floor, have a press conference this afternoon, and blame Republicans for shutting down Homeland Security is beyond me.
Now, there are some even on the Republican side that say, “Oh, gosh,” you know, “The President will blame us even if it’s not our fault and we might as well cave in and give him what he wants.” But what he wants is something he can’t be given. What he wants is for Congress to capitulate and erode its powers and responsibility. He wants Congress to violate its duty, to fund something that is illegal and contrary to Congress’s wishes. He can’t demand that. He has no right to demand that.
So Congress cannot fund—cannot, must not fund—an illegal action in hopes that another branch of government will intervene. Now, I say that because some have said, “Well, a court has ruled in Texas that a part of this action by the President is unlawful.” The court was narrow in its decision… I would point out that the Texas court’s injunction addresses only a part of Obama’s lawless actions and could be lifted at any time.
We should stand up for Congresses in years to come, for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren, and defend the power of the purse and defend the integrity of this Congress. …
I think that Senate Democrats and the President must answer why they believe funding executive amnesty and unlawful immigration policies would make this country safer. They say, “Well, you won’t pass a Homeland Security bill like we want it, you’re not making America safe.” I say that their policies eviscerating law enforcement are making America less safe.
We want to fund fully Homeland Security. We want the laws enforced. We don’t want to spend money from Homeland Security to eviscerate the law of the United States and undermine immigration law in America, and we don’t want to fund an unlawful action by the President.
One of the things that was done in this executive amnesty that’s been too little commented on, when the President signed these orders in November, is another policy, another program that has not been authorized by law that would add several hundred thousand new workers to our country… Now, the H-1B program was set up for certain individuals to come and work for three years and then extend maybe another three years, …and it does allow the spouses to come, but since its beginning, it barred spouses from working, or else we were doubling the number of workers. So this [executive action] now just up and approved the ability of spouses of H-1B workers to work. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service estimates—and I’m reading from [their release], “the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years.” …
Well, what if your child wants a job? What if you want a job? What if your spouse wants a job and is looking at a job and now we’ve got another, what, 250,000 job applicants, contrary to law?
The first thing we should do is be focusing on getting jobs for Americans that are unemployed. Are we going to keep Americans on welfare and benefits while we bring in more and more foreigners to take jobs when we’ve got Americans ready and willing to take those jobs?
That certainly is what the Obama administration has in mind, because such a policy will increase poverty and government dependence, thereby creating more Democratic voters.
The strangest thing about the current crisis in Washington is the Democrats’ insistence that the Senate’s minority has the right to dictate all legislation relating to appropriations and spending. If the Senate minority wants to enact an appropriations bill in a certain form, or in a certain amount, then the Senate majority and the House of Representatives are obliged to fall in to line and adjust their preferences to accommodate the Senate minority.
This is a position for which I can find no support in the Constitution, and it has never before been advanced. But Republicans should keep it in mind if they find themselves in the minority in the Senate in 2017. No doubt the principle will be consistently applied.