Congressman Cohen Votes to Prevent Government Shutdown

February 14, 2019
Press Release
Spending package provides funding for effective border security

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) tonight voted for, and the House passed, a spending package that will likely avert another government shutdown. The package, which includes $1.375 billion for barriers and bollard fencing but none for the President’s requested border wall, will fund the departments and agencies covered by the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, State-Foreign Operations, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills through September 30.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

“Tonight’s vote will, I hope, end demands for a wall while actually increasing border security more effectively. We need to have a fully functioning federal government providing services to the American people and incomes to our federal employees. I look forward to an end to threatened shutdowns.

“The President’s stated desire to declare a national emergency to build a wall on the Southern Border is damaging to our constitutional system of separation of powers and checks and balances.  The Constitution only gives Congress the power of the purse and the President’s plan to raid the military or disaster budget would be a dangerous precedent.”

The package includes a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees.  The measure also provides $44.2 billion for programs and activities of the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), including $8 billion for new housing and public infrastructure. It provides $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grants for local governments to help with housing, social service and economic challenges in their communities. It provides $22.6 billion -- $583 million more than last year – for rental assistance under the Section 8 program.

The package provides $415 million for the Legal Services Corporation to help low-income individuals access attorneys and legal aid.

It also increases funding for the Census Bureau by 36 percent to prepare for the 2020 Census and increases funding for the National Science Foundation by 4 percent.

The border security provisions of the spending package specifically limit barrier construction to designs like those already deployed, ruling out the President’s “big, beautiful” border wall. It also provides $564 million for inspection equipment at ports of entry and $59 million for 600 new Customs officers.