Cochran Calls for Renewed Use of Conference Committees as Homeland Security Funding Stalemate Continues


Chairman Critical of Refusal to Debate DHS Funding, Contentious Administration Policies
WASHINGTON, D.C — U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today said Senators should resume the regular practice of using conference committee negotiations with the House of Representatives to resolve policy differences between the two bodies.
The Senate on Monday failed to reach the requisite number of votes needed to move forward on a motion to conference with the House on legislation to provide FY2015 funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
In his remarks delivered on the Senate floor, Cochran called for a transparent and orderly appropriations process, including conference negotiations.
“Each of these [appropriations] bills will prompt differences, but we should have opportunities for robust debates on these differences.  That’s all I’m suggesting. We can proceed to conference with the House in a timely manner on the bills. Doing so will help provide opportunities for orderly and direct resolution of differences as reported by the various committees.  We’ve done too little of that in recent years and it’s been detrimental to the legislative process,” Cochran said.
Cochran criticized Democratic Senators’ refusal to allow open debate and a vote on the executive actions taken by President Obama granting temporary amnesty to millions of people who are in the United States illegally.
“We’ve been wrangling over this bill for three months now.  The legislative maneuvering has crowded out all of the real issues before the Senate on this legislation.  We should have debated and voted on the President’s actions, the executive orders, which provoked this entire situation,” Cochran said.  “On multiple occasions members on the other side of the aisle have voted unanimously to avoid having that debate.  First, four times they voted over the course of three weeks to refuse to even consider the House-passed funding bill.  Their bill was passed by the other body in plenty of time to avoid the shutdown that currently consumes the Senate.”
The Senate and House have until midnight Friday to before short-term funding for the Homeland Security Department expires.