"I am afraid that both sides are losing sight of why we have a First Amendment..." House Judiciary Committee Hearing, April 9, 2019
How Cloture Killed the 115th CongressCloture was originally designed to protect the minority's right to debate, but it has now degenerated into a very effective way for the minority to prevent any debate.
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April 2, 2019 Speeches
March 28, 2019 Speeches
This is a massive document encompassing 147 individual bills, including mine on establishing a permanent fund for medical clinics in our National Parks. It reduces total federal land ownership at a time we can’t take care of the land we currently hold, shares considerably more LWCF money with states which have proven better land stewards, and relaxes public use restrictions on 168,000 acres of federal land. I am greatly concerned about adding 1.3 million acres of federal land to wilderness designation which greatly restricts public access, but more than half of this amount is in exchange for opening up other federal lands to greater recreation and economic development and has the support of the local governments most directly affected. I am also concerned over permanent reauthorization of the LWCF without reforming it to assure that maintenance needs are met before we acquire new lands. However, it does provide for 40 percent revenue sharing with state governments.
This bill would invalidate the President’s action to invoke the National Emergencies Act regarding the security of our nation’s southern border. The President has invoked an authority dating back to 1976 that allows him, by making such a declaration, to reprogram unobligated military construction funds to address the emergency. It has been invoked 58 times since then, including for such declared “emergencies” as civil unrest in Burma and Sierra Leone. There are 31 such emergencies currently in effect. In this case, the designation allows the President to access funds to build a wall to secure our own country’s porous southern border. Whether Congress should have given the President such a broad grant of authority is a separate matter. But as long as he has it, he has the responsibility to use it to defend our nation’s southern border and uphold our immigration laws.
Our country faces two dangers that have proven fatal to other countries: the collapse of our borders and the collapse of our finances. This bill doesn’t solve our border crisis and it makes our fiscal woes worse. It provides only $1.375 billion of the $5.7 billion necessary to complete the border wall at a time when 60,000 foreign nationals are illegally crossing into our country every month. Further, it hamstrings the use of this money with restrictions on the type of wall that can be constructed, confines it geographically, orders massive breaks in coverage and subjects it to local delays. Worse, it places new restrictions on law enforcement in trying to enforce our existing immigration law. Furthermore, the President has statutory authority to re-reprogram more than $13 billion in military construction funds for border wall construction without such restrictions. With or without this bill, he will still need to invoke this authority. While the measure doesn’t solve the border crisis, it irresponsibly increases overall spending at a time when revenues are essentially flat, moving us closer to a trillion-dollar annual deficit which economists warn is risking a debt spiral and ultimately a sovereign debt crisis. Countries that can’t defend their borders or that bankrupt themselves aren’t around very long. This bill fails to defend our borders and brings us closer to catastrophic fiscal insolvency.
Withdrawing Congressional Authorization for Use of Force in Support of Yemeni Government: No. I am sympathetic to the concern of supporters that the use of military force can only be authorized by Congress and should only be authorized in response to an attack on U.S. territory or military forces. However, in the case of U.S. support against the Houthi rebels, the authorization was provided in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force approved by Congress in 2001, which covers the extremist elements directly affiliated with the Houthi rebels like Hezbollah. I have serious concerns about the way the AUMF was drafted and how it has been pursued, but invoking the War Powers Resolution, which hasn’t been done since the Vietnam war, after Congress has provided authorization is ill advised and will negatively impact our credibility in the region.