U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) spoke on the Senate floor about the unprecedented humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border on Tuesday. Thune noted that the Biden administration has escalated this crisis by failing to implement meaningful policies to deter illegal immigration. Thune also discussed November’s Consumer Price Index report, which shows inflation has increased 13.8 percent since President Biden took office.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, last Tuesday President Biden was asked why he wasn’t taking the opportunity to visit the border while traveling to Arizona.
“‘Because there’s a more important thing going on.’
“‘… a more important thing going on.’
“Mr. President, no offense to new investment, but if President Biden thinks that visiting a plant to celebrate new investment is MORE important than the security and humanitarian crisis raging on our southern border, then his priorities are seriously out of order.
“But, of course, we already knew that.
“This is hardly the first time the president has made it clear that he thinks of the crisis at our southern border as just an annoying distraction from what he’d rather be doing as president.
“In fact, he’s shown a remarkable ability throughout his presidency to ignore or minimize crises that he isn’t interested in dealing with.
“‘… there’s a more important thing going on.’
“Mr. President, I venture to suggest that for overwhelmed border communities struggling with an apparently never-ending influx of illegal immigration, there isn’t anything more important going on.
“And the president’s trivializing of our border crisis is a serious betrayal of the responsibility he owes to these Americans – and to all Americans.
“The situation at our southern border is out of control – and has been that way for most of the president’s administration.
“Over this past weekend alone, Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 16,000 individuals attempting to cross our southern border illegally.
“That’s an average of 8,000 per day – higher than the daily average in May, which posted the highest number of attempted illegal crossings ever recorded.
“October saw a staggering 230,678 attempted illegal crossings along our southern border.
“All told, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered nearly 2.4 million individuals attempting to cross our southern border illegally during fiscal year 2022.
“That is the highest number ever recorded, exceeding the previous record set the year before by roughly 640,000.
“And of course these numbers just refer to individuals the Border Patrol actually apprehended.
“There have been almost 1 million known “gotaways” over the past two fiscal years.
“And an untold number of unknown gotaways.
“Mr. President, President Biden’s comment doesn’t just trivialize the scope of this crisis; it also trivializes the human misery that has resulted.
“At least 853 migrants died crossing the southern border in fiscal year 2022, the highest number ever recorded.
“It’s hard to imagine that that number wouldn’t have been smaller if President Biden had gotten serious about addressing this border crisis instead of inviting illegal immigration with his lax border policies.
“I mentioned overwhelmed border communities.
“I should also mention the incredible strain the past two years have placed on the Border Patrol, which has been forced to divert agents from border enforcement to the overwhelmed humanitarian mission.
“And then of course there’s the very real danger represented by unchecked illegal immigration, including the risk of dangerous individuals entering our country undetected and the potential for increased drug trafficking.
“Illegal drugs are flowing across our southern border – and contributing to violent crime not just in border communities but in communities around the nation.
“And that’s not to even mention our nation’s fentanyl crisis, which is being fed by drugs trafficked across – where else? – our southern border.
“And our current border crisis is an open invitation to increased illegal drug activity.
“But the president has more important places to be than the southern border.
“Even though, I should point out, he’s never actually visited the southern border.
“The closest he got was literally driving by the border on the way to a campaign rally in 2008.
“Mr. President, for border communities and strained Border Patrol agents, I venture to say that there is nothing more important than getting our nation’s border crisis under control.
“But I guess they’ll just have to keep waiting.
“After all, the president has more important things to do.
“Mr. President, in other tone-deaf comments from the Biden administration last week, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said, and I quote, ‘Fiscal responsibility is very important to us in the Biden administration. We’re very well aware that we have to stay within our means economically. I think … you see that in everything we’ve tried to do these past two years.’
“Mr. President, when I read that I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry – or just be angry on behalf of the millions of Americans who are currently suffering as a result of Democrats’ lack of fiscal responsibility over the past two years.
“Mr. President, we are currently in the midst of the worst inflation crisis in 40 years.
“My daughters, who are married with their own children now, weren’t even alive the last time inflation was this bad.
“November inflation numbers came out this morning, and they just confirmed what we already know – that we are still very much in the midst of this crisis.
“Currently, inflation is up 13.8 percent since January 2021, when President Biden took office.
“Even if our inflation crisis ended tomorrow, the inflation we’ve already experienced will cost the average household more than $9,000 over the next 12 months.
“For a lot of families, that’s the difference between prosperity and just getting by.
“For many others, it’s the difference between just getting by and not being able to get by at all.
“And how did we get here, Mr. President?
“Well, in substantial part thanks to the president’s and Democrats’ fiscal irresponsibility.
“When Democrats took office in January 2021, Congress had just passed a fifth bipartisan COVID bill that met essentially all current pressing COVID needs.
“But Democrats just wanted to keep spending.
“And so despite being warned that the size of the package they were contemplating risked overheating our economy, under the guise of COVID relief Democrats passed a massive, partisan, $1.9 trillion spending bill filled with unnecessary spending and payoffs to Democrat interest groups.
“And the economy overheated as a result.
“Inflation began climbing. And climbing. And climbing again.
“But what’s almost worse, Mr. President – and what makes the White House’s claim that they care about fiscal responsibility so incredibly ludicrous – is what Democrats and the president did next.
“Even as it became clear that their massive spending spree had helped set off a serious inflation problem, Democrats and the president kept pushing for more spending.
“In fact, their goal – which they were fortunately prevented from achieving – was passing another massive spending spree in the neighborhood of $5 trillion.
“And even after that plan was foiled, Democrats and the president kept right on pursuing more fiscally irresponsible legislation.
“In August Democrats passed legislation – their so-called Inflation Reduction Act – filled with hundreds of billions of dollars in Green New Deal spending partially financed by tax hikes that will raise energy prices and slow job creation.
“Democrats tried to clothe the bill in an aura of fiscal responsibility by claiming – dubiously, I might add – that it would reduce the deficit by $300 billion.
“Do you want to know how long that purported deficit reduction lasted once the bill was signed?
“That’s how long it took for President Biden to completely wipe out any deficit reduction in the bill by implementing his massive student loan giveaway.
“A giveaway that not only wipes out any possible deficit reduction but will also, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, ‘meaningfully boost inflation.’
“And yet we’re supposed to believe that the Biden administration values fiscal responsibility.
“Mr. President, when it comes to fiscal responsibility, the Biden administration has demonstrated that it could not care less.
“The Biden administration is interested in implementing the big-government priorities of the far left – no matter how much they cost.
“And unfortunately, the American people are paying the price.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”