H.R. 3354, Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act of 2018
In order to prevent a shutdown in December, Congress needs to pass appropriations bills that fund our government agencies. Earlier this year Congress passed a bill funding some of our federal agencies and today the remaining accounts were taken up and voted on. I voted no on this legislation because it took a hammer to priorities that are important to me. The majority brought to the floor a bill that cuts to the bone programs that ensure our water and air is clean, support transportation programs that help local businesses grow, and further apprenticeship opportunities to help folks get a good job.
It was also littered with unrelated policy proposals that should not be included in a must-pass spending bill. For example, two provisions were slipped in that would make it even easier for big money to flood our political system. I spoke out against that because I don’t think anyone believes that’s a good idea. You can watch that here.
This is why folks hate Congress. At the end of the day it needs to come together and govern. I remain committed to avoiding a shutdown that would hurt local businesses and workers. I also remain committed to passing bills that support quality jobs and education opportunities, honor our commitments to those who serve, and ensure a secure retirement remains in reach for everyone.
H.R. 3697, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act
Today, the House took a vote on H.R. 3697, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act. Congress needs to come together to support tougher border measures that keep out criminals and repeat offenders while making sure law-abiding folks playing by the rules have a path to becoming a citizen. I don’t believe that members of criminal gangs should be allowed in the country to live and operate. At the same time, I had serious concerns that this bill wasn’t the right way to reach that goal, so I voted no.
I cast a no vote because civil rights and civil liberties groups raised compelling questions about whether this bill provided too few protections for legal permanent residents, who could be deported based solely on a suspicion that they belong in a gang with no procedure for challenging that suspicion. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights extends protection not just to American citizens, but also to folks who are here legally. Folks like my grandmother who came here from Europe after World War II and lived here legally for decades before becoming a US citizen.
This is why people hate Congress. This is another example of a legitimate issue that’s been handled in a ham-fisted partisan way. Instead of putting forward a bill that’s been through the committee process, received public testimony, and been subjected to amendment, it was rammed through in a partisan fashion. As a consequence legitimate concerns about due process were ignored. This also meant members like myself, who support the goal but were concerned about the details, did not get a chance to raise legitimate questions about making sure this bill does the right job of balancing public safety against the rights of individuals to have due process.