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Bonamici Statement on the Spending Bill Negotiated by the Bipartisan Conference Committee

February 14, 2019
Statements

 

Madame Speaker, I rise today to express my support for this government spending bill negotiated by the bipartisan Conference Committee. Although the bill is not what I would have drafted, and I recognize that we still have much work to do in the area of humane immigration reform, we simply cannot have another painful, costly, and unnecessary shutdown. The members of our Coast Guard, TSA, and other federal agencies are still recovering from the most recent shutdown. They deserve certainty, and they need to know that they can continue working and that they will be paid on time. The President must also act responsibly and fulfill his duty to federal workers and those who rely on government services by signing this legislation.

 

This bill includes many victories I am proud to support; it delivers a pay raise to federal workers to keep pace with the cost of living, invests in the Census to provide a fair and accurate count for underrepresented communities, and dedicates $17 billion in new infrastructure funding to improve our roads, bridges, and mass transit. The legislation increases investments in small business initiatives for minority and women-owned businesses, which will create jobs. The bill also rejects the Trump Administration’s attacks on the environment by denying deep cuts to programs that protect clean water, clean air, and public lands.

 

As with any compromise, I have serious reservations about some of the provisions in this bill—particularly regarding immigration enforcement. I appreciate that our conferees were able to prevent the wasteful inclusion of any increased funding for an ineffective border wall and include humanitarian assistance funding for migrants, but the House must continue to push for smarter, more compassionate use of resources for border security and immigration enforcement. I am concerned that this bill gives the Department of Homeland Security too much leeway to continue the unchecked targeting and detention of immigrants who pose no threat to public safety, rather than focusing enforcement efforts on high-priority criminals.

 

I continue to support having the appropriate personnel, equipment, facilities, and resources to address crime and trafficking on our borders, but immigration enforcement should not be militarized and operate with impunity. We can treat individuals in a humane and just manner and still prevent crime, reduce trafficking, and keep our country safe. People fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking asylum in the United States need to be protected, not threatened with more persecution. We must enact commonsense changes to improve accountability and protect the fundamental rights of immigrants—especially those legally seeking asylum. I will keep pushing for rigorous oversight of ICE and reforms to our immigration enforcement system.

 

This legislation is the product of good-faith negotiations between bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate. I am hopeful that this result demonstrates the futility of chaotic brinksmanship, and I hope that we can learn from this experience to resolve differences through dialogue and trust in the legislative process. I yield back.