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A New Direction in a New Congress
As 2014 comes to a close, I look forward with great expectation
to the 114th Congress. I am committed to working with my Republican colleagues to govern more responsibly
when we take control of the Senate in January.
One of Congress’ primary duties is to fund the federal
government, but under the management of Harry Reid, the Senate has consistently ignored important spending
decisions until literally the last minute. This forces senators to vote on large bills that fund the
entire government, but inevitably include many items I do not support.
Last weekend, I supported legislation that funds most
of the federal government through September 30, 2015 and the Department of Homeland Security through
February 27, 2015.
While I believe the overall funding legislation was far
from perfect, I voted for the bill that the House sent to the Senate because it does make many positive
changes for Hoosier families.
Some of these reforms include cutting the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) budget by $60 million and the Internal Revenue Service budget by $345 million,
prohibiting an EPA regulation opposed by Indiana farmers and blocking any new funding to implement Obamacare.
This is all in addition to necessities like funding our national security priorities and giving our troops
a pay raise.
Many Hoosiers have written me with concerns that the omnibus
spending bill passed by Congress funds President Obama’s executive amnesty plan.
This bill does not fund Obama’s amnesty because
funds appropriated by Congress aren’t being used to implement any of what the Obama Administration
plans to do.
Instead, the administration is going to pay for its plan
by using visa fees, which are collected by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a
branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This means that once the Obama Administration starts
granting amnesty, it will be paid for by fees collected from those trying to legally immigrate to the
United States, not funds appropriated by Congress.
What Congress can do to stop President Obama’s amnesty
plan is pass a bill prohibiting the use of visa fees to implement the executive action or attach this
language as a rider on an appropriations bill. Republicans wanted to attach such a rider to the spending
bill Congress just approved, but given that Democrats still control the Senate, it had no chance of passing.
This is why Republicans fought to only fund DHS through
February 27, 2015. By funding DHS only through February, a Republican House and Senate can attach a rider
blocking Obama’s amnesty plan to the next DHS appropriations bill.
Choosing between a massive funding bill and a government
shutdown is absolutely the wrong way to govern. The American people deserve a Congress that returns the
federal government to working order.
In 2015, I look forward to joining my colleagues in focusing
debate in the Senate on measures that will grow the economy, rein in federal spending and address the
Cuba Policy Change
President Obama’s announcement that he intends to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba
is a reversal of American policy that dates back to President John Kennedy.
Since 1961, nine Democrat and Republican presidents have supported the Cuba embargo that exists today.
While I am grateful for Alan Gross' safe return to the United States, the president's announcement is
further evidence that his foreign policy objective is appeasement.
The president’s action rewards the Castro regime at the expense of the Cuban people, who will
continue to be denied fair elections, an independent judicial system and free speech rights.