WASHINGTON, D.C.--In response to the September 30th presidential debate, John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) issued the following statement. Note that AFGE represents employees of the Department of Homeland Security, including Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection officers, and employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"In last night's debate, John Kerry proved he has the stuff to be commander-in-chief. Not only was he resolute and presidential, he conveyed his understanding of the obstacles placed by political appointees before the officers, inspectors and first responders of the Department of Homeland Security. As Senator Kerry stated, these include a lack of adequate funding and mishandling of homeland defense priorities.
"Today, for example, officers in Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol toil under a hiring freeze, as do all the employees of the Department of Homeland Security. That means if a Border Patrol officer retires or quits, that officer cannot be replaced. At a time of increased terrorist threats, what kind of sense does this make?
"Senator Kerry was right to point out the skewed priorities that have led to huge tax cuts for the wealthy while the nation's homeland security apparatus is hungry for resources. Kerry's performance last night gives us hope for a much needed change in direction for the sake of our nation's security."
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.