Freshman Democrats Announce Opposition to Bipartisan Spending Bill: It Gives More Money to 'Abusive Agencies'

Reps. Omar, Pressley, Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez / Instagram
February 14, 2019

A group of prominent freshman House Democrats released a joint statement that they wouldn't vote for a bipartisan deal to keep the government open, saying "abusive agencies" under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security didn't deserve a funding increase.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) said the Trump administration represented a threat to immigrants and, due to its "weaponization" of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), they would vote the spending package down.

"In this country, our diversity is our greatest strength," the statement said. "Immigrants fuel our nation's economy, enrich our nation's culture, and enhance our social fabric. Quite simply, we are a better nation because of our immigrants."

"And yet, this administration continues to threaten the dignity and humanity of our immigrant population. The Department of Homeland Security has separated thousands of children from their parents, denied asylum to those fleeing danger, and used taxpayers dollars as a slush fund to incite terror in immigrant communities. The efficacy of a government agency must be determined by assessing 'outcomes.' By any reasonable measure, Donald Trump's weaponization of ICE and CBP has been a failure. The Department of Homeland Security does not deserve an increase in funding, and that is why we intend to vote no on this funding package."

It criticized the package for giving more funding to the "abusive agencies" while concluding it was not meant to be "a rebuke of federal workers or those who depend on the services they provide."

In January, Trump signed a bill to reopen the government through Feb. 15 after a 35-day standoff with House Democrats over funding for a southern border wall, which he did not get. The new bill offers $1.375 billion for new fencing along the border with Mexico, far short of the $5.7 billion Trump wanted.

While Trump has said he's "not happy" at first glance of the bill, leaders on both sides in Congress are optimistic he will sign the legislation. He's also tweeted the wall "is being built as we speak" and has threatened to declare a national emergency to get it finished, although Congress could block him.