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“Let’s start 2019, and do it in the right way, by passing commonsense legislation that does secure the border, that does reopen the government and that protects the American people. Let’s work together to make ‘this, the most important year’ the start of a better future for all Americans.”

Click here  to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the Senate floor about the need to pass commonsense legislation that secures the border and reopens the government.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“The new year and brings with it new challenges, new opportunities and new faces to the 116th Congress.

“I want to welcome the nine freshmen senators: Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, Senator Cramer of North Dakota, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Martha McSally of Arizona, Mitt Romney of Utah, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Rick Scott of Florida and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.

“Their talent, their hard work have brought them all here. Now we have an expanded Senate Republican majority to build on the progress that we made in the 115th Congress – albeit we’re still short of the 60 votes needed to pass most pieces legislation.

“We have a group of people committed to the values of our party and our country and working together to find solutions for the nation.

“During the swearing-in last week, my 96-year-old mother joined us. She attended it, and she enjoyed it.

“She watches the opening every day for the Pledge of Allegiance and for the prayer from Reverend Black. She looks to that as a sign of our nation moving forward.

“From the time that I was a little boy, she would always say: ‘This is the most important year of your life.’

“She started from when I was very young, and I think her lesson remains today for me and for all of us.

“This is the most important year of our lives –for ourselves, for our nation, for the world.

“She would say what you do this year makes a big difference for the future so make sure you do it right.

“We are now at a point of divided government with the Democrats controlling the House, the Republicans controlling the Senate, and we need to work together and do it right on behalf of the American people.

“I think we have some immediate tasks. One is to secure the southern border and the other is to fund the government.

“These goals are not mutually exclusive – we can and we must do both. The key to breaking the current impasse is for both parties to work together.

“President Trump is right to insist on border-wall funding. I think he’s right to insist on it before agreeing to sign spending legislation to end the shutdown.

“He spoke passionately and convincingly about it last evening.

“If the southern border were a patient admitted to the hospital, it would be listed in critical condition.

“All Americans want a healthy immigration system that secures the border, enforces the law and keeps families together.

“The problem is the rise in illegal entries. Terrorists, drug smugglers, human traffickers, the Mexican drug cartel all exploiting our porous border with Mexico.

“The Customs and Border Protection commissioner has called the situation a ‘border security and humanitarian crisis.’

“Here are the numbers from the Department of Homeland Security:

“Currently 16,000 Border Patrol agents and 8,100 military troops guard the southern border. The National Guard has been deployed there continuously since 2006.

“Still, illegal border crossings increased dramatically from 2017 to 2018.

“In this past year, 396,000 people were stopped at the border, including 3,700 suspected terrorists and 800 gang members.

“Of the border’s 1,950 miles, a physical barrier today protects about 650 miles. Border Patrol areas with enhanced or expanded barriers have been successful. They have seen a 90 percent decrease in illegal traffic.

“That’s why the president wants to proceed with additional barriers, physical barriers to protect the border.

“There’s a huge improvement due to the wall.

“Clearly, walls work, barriers work. So I ask why is House Speaker Pelosi prolonging the shutdown by denying critical funding?

“She has called the wall immoral. I would say what’s immoral is refusing to provide for the safety and the security of the American people by providing border security.

“Border security policy-making has always been bipartisan. Not now, it seems.

“The Pelosi plan to end the partial shutdown isn’t serious policy, its political posturing. And as I say ‘partial government shutdown’ because 75 percent of the government continues to be funded.

“The speaker’s proposal includes billions in wasteful spending while ignoring the crisis at the border. The president has promised to veto what she is proposing.

“Instead of negotiating, the speaker is basically playacting.

“What’s needed is an agreement—and agreement between the president and Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate that can pass the House, secure at least 60 votes in the Senate and then be signed into law.

“As President Trump said in his January 4 letter to Congress, ‘A nation that fails to control its borders cannot fulfill its most basic obligations to its citizens – physical safety, economic security, essential public services, and the uniform protection of our laws.’

“We cannot afford to play politics with the border.

“I think that we should listen to the advice that my mother continues to give me that this is the most important year of your life. It’s important for this body, for this institution, and for this nation.

“Let’s start 2019, and do it in the right way by passing common-sense legislation that does secure the border, that does reopen the government and that protects the American people.

“Let’s work together to make ‘this, the most important year’ the start of a better future for all Americans.”