In a phone interview with MMM this morning, Congressman Chris Smith, R-NJ 4, said that published reports by New Jersey Globe and SaveJersey claiming that he voted with Democrats to reopen the federal government without funding a wall for our southern border are incomplete and inaccurate.
“I am a strong supporter of securing our southern border, including the wall–I voted for $5.7 billion for the wall in December-– and have been throughout my career,” Smith said. “The bill I voted for yesterday, H J Res 1, would fund the only Department of Homeland Security and only until February 9.”
“Homeland Security’s 245,000 + employees need be working to keep our country safe. Too many people are furloughed and and those who are working are not being paid. H J Res 1 would give us a month to create the right solution for funding the wall and overall border security without putting us at risk now by furloughing public safety personnel.”
Smith provided the following facts from the non-partisan Congressional Research Office:
Total DHS Employees: 245,405212,699 or (85% of DHS employees) are still working during the Shutdown
- Some are working while being paid. For example, USCIS employees are funded through visa fees. Some FEMA employees are funded through the disaster relief funds that have not dried up.
- Many officials do not have alternative funding and are therefore forced to work without pay.
- Customs & Border Patrol agents: 56,000 most still working without pay
- TSA- 55,000 still working without pay
- Coast Guard- 44,000 still working without pay
- Secret Service – 6,000 still working without pay
- FEMA- 15,200 still working (some will get paid through disaster relief fund)
- ICE – 16,000 most still working without pay32,706 are furloughed and not getting paid or coming into work
Smith noted that he voted against H.R. 21 yesterday, a bill that would have completely reopened the government and funded the the rest of the fiscal year through September 30, without funding the wall.
Smith acknowledged that, in voting for H J Res 1, the bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security until February 9, that he was voting contrary to most Republicans and that his position on that bill differs from the President’s. (The White House said the President would veto the bill)
“I am 100% with the President on securing our border, but I think we need to get Homeland Security back to work immediately while we continue to negotiate for wall funding. I believe that we, Republicans in Congress and the President, are in a better position to negotiate if DHS employees are working and paid.”
“Congress should have stayed in Washington through the holidays, like President Trump did, to resolve this issue while Republicans still held the House,” Smith said. “The hardworking patriots of Homeland Security should not have to suffer because we in Congress have not gotten our work done.”