WATCH: Kelly Hammers Consequences of Choosing Politics Over Bipartisan Solutions After Failed Senate Border Vote
This week, after the Senate failed to advance the national security bill with border security measures, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly spoke on the Senate floor about the humanitarian crisis Arizona and other border states are facing and the consequences of choosing politics over addressing this problem.
“This humanitarian crisis is bad for asylum seekers, bad for law enforcement, and bad for communities. The problem gets worse the longer it is ignored. And yet, for decades, nothing has been done,” said Kelly on the floor. “…This week, we had a real and rare opportunity to actually do something about it. There was a real plan, a real bill—ready to be passed and signed into law by the President.”
“I understand the politics. I know some politicians see more advantage in shouting about problems than solving them,” Kelly continued. “Well, I’ll tell you this: If you come back to my state to do TV interviews at the border, you better be ready to explain why you chose politics over addressing the crisis staring you in the face. If you can’t do that—don’t come back. Because this isn’t just a political talking point for me or my state. It’s a reality we live every single day. That’s why even after this setback, I won’t stop working to fix the issues at our border and our broken immigration system. But make no mistake, this is a shameful day for the Senate.”
Click here to download video of Kelly’s remarks. See below for a complete transcript:
The federal government has failed Arizona and other border states for decades.
And for decades, Congress has done nothing about it.
As we’ve lurched from crisis to crisis, Arizona and other border states have always been hit the hardest.
This humanitarian crisis is bad for asylum seekers, bad for law enforcement, and bad for communities.
The problem gets worse the longer it is ignored.
And yet for decades, nothing has been done.
I see it every time I go to the border. So have my colleagues who’ve traveled to Arizona to see it for themselves.
I hear about it every time I talk to border mayors and sheriffs.
And we talk about it every day here in the Senate and over in the House.
In fact, there are few topics we talk about more—while nothing changes.
This week, we had a real and rare opportunity to actually do something about it.
There was a real plan, a real bill—ready to be passed and signed into law by the President.
We got here because for months, Senators Sinema, Murphy, and Lankford worked together on a bipartisan agreement. Almost every single day, for months.
If we passed it, we’d get more Border Patrol agents, more technology to stop fentanyl, more asylum officers to quickly screen asylum claims, and more judges to bring down this massive backlog of cases.
That would make a real difference.
If we’d passed it, we’d have an updated asylum system, authorities to prevent the border from being overwhelmed, and more visas to keep families together. We’d have a more secure and fair process at the border.
That’s what all of us want.
And it should be no surprise that we got this plan thanks to Republicans and Democrats just working together.
It was the product of tough conversations and compromise—in other words, the way legislation is supposed to happen.
And it came together in an agreement that was not going to just address the border, but also the biggest challenges in our national security.
Mr. President, this is a perilous time. The decisions we make here, now, will shape the world that our kids and grandkids grow up in.
As Hamas and other Iranian-backed militias threaten stability in the Middle East, this agreement included support for our ally Israel and aid for civilians in Gaza.
As China expands its influence in order to offset U.S. power in the region, this agreement included support for Taiwan and other partners in the Pacific to strengthen their own self-defense.
And finally, as Putin wages this illegal war to annex Ukraine and destabilize Europe, this agreement included desperately needed weapons and ammunition to support Ukraine in their self-defense.
Mr. President, I’ve traveled to Ukraine twice since Russia invaded nearly two years ago.
As someone who has fought in combat myself, I was struck by the bravery of their citizens and soldiers in this existential fight that they’re facing.
Over the course of the last two years, armed with support from us and our European allies, they have decimated the Russian army, significantly degrading their combat capabilities.
This is a huge benefit to our own national security, and it came about without putting a single American in harm’s way.
But our previous aid package for Ukraine—that ran out last year.
So, this week we faced a choice—either provide Ukraine with more support to keep beating back Russia or leave it without the weapons and ammunition it needs and invite Russia to regain momentum.
If that happens, Putin could set his sights on another target, threatening a wider conflict that will be much more costly for the United States.
That would be a disaster.
So, Mr. President, I’m relieved that we’ve found a path forward to prevent that by advancing these national security priorities on their own.
But I’m baffled by how we got here.
We took a pair of votes this week—one that included border security and support for our allies and one that was just support for our allies.
It was a lack of support from my Republican colleagues that meant the first vote with border security failed.
This after months of working on a compromise to finally do something about this issue.
Every Senator faced a choice, an up or down vote.
That’s why we’re here: To make tough choices in service of our country. And to make easy choices when they’re right in front of us.
Supporting our allies is an easy choice.
Securing our border is an easy choice.
I understand the politics. I know some politicians see more advantage in shouting about problems than solving them.
Well, I’ll tell you this, if you come back to my state to do TV interviews at the border, you better be ready to explain why you chose politics over addressing this crisis that’s staring you in the face.
If you can’t do that—don’t come back.
Because this isn’t just a political talking point for me, or for Senator Sinema, or for my state. It’s the reality that we live with every single day.
That’s why even after this setback, I won’t stop working to fix this issue at our border and fix our broken immigration system.
But make no mistake, Mr. President, this is a shameful week for the Senate.
The American people are watching. They were hoping that Congress could overcome political divides for once and actually deliver.
That didn’t happen. The Senate failed them.