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Fixing Appropriations Process Must Be Top Priority in 2019

The American people expect results from the people they elect to Congress. This includes getting our appropriations work done on time. When we don’t finalize the bills to fund the government before the end of the fiscal year, it becomes easier for different factions in the House and Senate to force a shutdown of the government over certain issues. This is what has happened with the current partial government shutdown over border security spending. While the majority of government services was funded for a full year on time, several agencies were not. They include a number of government agencies that South Dakotans utilize such as the Department of Homeland Security which processes H-2B visa applications, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


There is no question that we need increased border security. Last month, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan described the situation as a “border security and humanitarian crisis.” CBP apprehensions are up 30 percent, including approximately 6,700 apprehensions of individuals with criminal history. There has also been a 50 percent increase in apprehensions of known gang members. Seizures of methamphetamines are up 75 percent since 2016. More than 60,000 migrants have arrived at our border each of the last three months and of those, 85 percent illegally crossed the border. The need for additional resources along the southern border is urgent.


I have always been an advocate for stronger border security because the primary responsibility of the federal government is the defense of our nation. Last congress, I introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) that authorized and appropriated $25 billion in enhanced border security over 10 years. It received support from all but three Senate Democrats when it was brought to the floor. I also sponsored the WALL Act, which would fully fund the border wall and identified specific funding sources to pay for it.


Shutdowns are irresponsible and have a real impact on American families. Nobody wins in a shutdown. As we start the first session of the 116th Congress, I will work with any member—Republican or Democrat-- to focus on a solution to finally get our appropriations work done in full and on time. That way, we can focus on other important issues before us, such as addressing trade disputes, lowering health care and prescription drug costs and continuing to grow our economy, among other things. The American people expect that of us. It’s time to get results.