On Thursday, as Democrats take over control of the House of Representatives we will immediately pass legislation to open up the government.
This legislation mirrors the Republican-led effort that passed the Senate unanimously before the President shut down the government.
Currently seventy-five percent of our discretionary government operations are fully funded through September 2019. The remainder, which affects seven government agencies, is subject to the current shutdown.
This democratic legislation will immediately fund six of the seven agencies through September 2019 and temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security until February 2019, giving negotiators time to work out a final agreement that will fund the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the fiscal year. This effort will ensure that every federal worker is paid.
To the extent that physical barriers have either been previously funded or might be funded in the future, we are working with House and Senate leadership not only to protect the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge but also to legislatively protect the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge and SpaceX, Bentsen State Park, La Lomita Chapel and the National Butterfly Center in Mission.
Finally, as an alternative to the President’s misguided insistence on physical barrier funding, I am proposing that four billion dollars be appropriated to fully fund border security infrastructure at our nation’s ports of entry. Legislators from across the United States have expressed serious concerns with respect to addressing the nation’s opioid and fentanyl crisis.
The fact is clear that eighty-five to eighty-eight percent of the fentanyl and opioid seizures occur at our ports of entry. For that reason, I believe that federal resources dedicated to these measures are a much better bang for the buck than wasted border wall funding.
Editor’s Note: The above commentary was issued by Congressman Filemon Vela of Brownsville on New Year’s Day, 2019.