House Dems Add Poison-Pill Demand to Border Debate
By US Senator Mitch McConnell (R) Kentucky
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need to secure our border and fund the government: 

“As recently as a few days ago, our government funding discussions seemed to be in a pretty good place. Bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on finishing out the year’s appropriations process seemed to be on track. We appeared headed toward a compromise result that could have provided much-needed investments in border security and completed our remaining appropriations bills to fully fund the government.

“Last week, the Democratic Leader seemed confident that, quote, ‘We worked out a plan to refund the government, deal with border security in a way that would be acceptable to all sides. That’s working pretty well.’ Just this past Friday, the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy, suggested, quote, ‘We’re 95 to 98 percent done.’ But then, over the weekend, we heard that the talks had suddenly hit a snag. The bipartisan momentum had stalled. What went wrong?

“Here’s what happened: House Democrats decided to add a poison-pill demand into the conversations at the 11th hour. It’s a new demand. And it is extreme: A hard, statutory cap on the number of illegal immigrants who could be detained by the federal government. This would result in the release of thousands of criminal aliens and our inability to detain thousands more criminal aliens whom our federal and state law enforcement authorities will apprehend. 

“This is a poison pill that no administration – not this one, not the previous one -- would -- or should -- ever accept. Imagine the absurdity of this. House Democrats want to set a limit on how many criminal aliens our government can detain. A limit that is not based on any aspect of reality, such as how many criminal aliens there actually are, or what crimes they have committed -- just an arbitrary number a couple of lawmakers have pulled out of thin air. The consequence of such an arbitrary limit is obvious: Thousands of criminal aliens would simply be released into the interior of our country, both immediately and then on a rolling basis. 

“The National Sheriffs’ Association explained this in a letter to Chairman Shelby and Senator Leahy. Here’s what the sheriffs said: ‘Capping the number of detention beds… not only jeopardizes the integrity of the immigration system, but would cripple ICE’s ability to detain criminal aliens and other aliens who pose a risk to public safety or are a flight risk...’

“‘In order to meet the cap being tentatively proposed by Congress, ICE would be compelled to release thousands of aliens from custody.’ That’s what the National Sheriffs’ Association had to say about it. Released, just like that, right into the United States of America. It’s hard to believe, that this is where some Democrats are: a get-out-of-jail-free card for criminals because the radical left doesn’t like U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Let me say that again, a get-out-of-jail-free card for criminals because the radical left doesn’t like U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

“It’s hard to believe that this ‘Abolish ICE’ fringe among House Democrats actually thinks enforcing our laws is wrong. It’s hard to believe a group of House Democrats see kneecapping American law enforcement as a higher priority than keeping the government open. But it would be even harder to believe that leading Democrats would be open to this craziness and would let this last-minute poison pill scuttle the entire appropriations process.

“Just last year, when the Democratic Leader was highlighting productive, bipartisan work on this appropriations process. He said, quote: ‘Both sides have worked to avoid poison pill riders. That has meant steady progress.’ Ranking Member Leahy celebrated that through last year’s committee process, quote: ‘We avoided new poison pill riders’. 

“So, I hope that my Democratic colleagues are able to talk some sense into their side. Some House Democrats are risking a second partial government shutdown by calling for this absurd last-minute poison pill. No administration, of any party, would sign a bill that forced them to release criminal aliens into the interior of the United States. No administration would accept this poison pill forcing the release of criminals now, and on a rolling basis going forward.

“I understand the four leaders on appropriations in both chambers will be meeting in just a few moments. I implore my friends across the aisle: Untangle yourselves from the most extreme far-left voices out on the fringe. Do not let this radical fringe and its absurd demand prevent you from taking ‘yes’ for an answer. Don’t let them torpedo all of the bipartisan work.

“This provision would, rightly, be a total non-starter with the White House -- with any White House, not just this one. It would erase our progress and kick us back to square one. A total poison pill, pure and simple. The American people are not clamoring for more aliens with criminal backgrounds to be roaming at large in their communities. I’ve never heard anybody ask for that.  And they certainly are not so eager for that outcome that they want another partial shutdown in order to achieve it. My Democratic colleagues in this chamber need to see this stunt for what it is, bring their side back to the table, and finish our work for the American people.”

Published 02:20 PM, Monday Feb. 11, 2019
Updated 04:39 PM, Thursday Feb. 14, 2019