Chairwoman Mikulski Speaks Against House Continuing Resolution

Release Date: 
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

For Immediate Release   September 24, 2013

Contact: Rob Blumenthal (202) 224-1010 / Eve Goldsher (202) 224-3751

NOTE TO ASSIGNMENT EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS:

Senator Mikulski’s remarks on the Senate floor are available for broadcast quality download.

Audio of Senator Mikulski’s remarks is available – here.

Video of Senator Mikulski’s remarks is available – here.

CHAIRWOMAN MIKULSKI SPEAKS AGAINST HOUSE CONTINUING RESOLUTION

"I am so frustrated for all of the people of Maryland and all of the people of the United States who should have a government that they can count on, a government that works as hard as they do," Chairwoman says.

"The House not only wants to throw sand in the gears of the Obama administration, they want to throw cement into the gears of the functioning of government."

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor to urge the Senate to support the Senate Amendment to the House Continuing Resolution. The Chairwoman’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

"As the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, I rise to oppose the Continuing Resolution (CR) that the House passed last week on a party-line vote of 230-189. I am so frustrated for all of the people of Maryland and all of the people of the United States who should have a government that they can count on to operate, that they count on, a government that works as hard as they do.

"However, what we have here is a manufactured crisis with histrionic theatrics designed to bring us to a shutdown. The CR that was sent over to us is loaded with political ideology. What does it do? The first thing it wants to do is defund the President's Affordable Care Act, to take away the healthcare from those who need it. The House CR is designed to create a crisis over the debt ceiling and undermine the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

"Now, our President has been clear. He will veto any bill with these toxic political riders, and he is right. And we will support him. Much will be said in the media over the next several days about something called ‘the Continuing Resolution.’ There we go again. Washington-speak that nobody in America understands. There we go with ‘budget-speak’ where people are saying, what are they trying to accomplish?

"So let me explain it in straight talk way. A Continuing Resolution is a straight-forward, simple Act in which we extend the government's funding beyond October 1 to a date certain. It's meant to continue the funding. It is, historically speaking, short-term and meant to be a stopgap resolution as we work towards resolving matters. It is also designed to keep the United States government open and functioning while we work out our difficulties.

"So that's what a Continuing Resolution is meant to be. It was never meant to be a vehicle for controversial, provocative, poke-it-in-your-eye, stick-it-to-you, controversial legislation. It was never meant to be a negotiating chip for a grander bargain to resolve our issues. Nor was it ever designed to be a weapon in the fight over the size and role of government.

"That's the role of the authorizing committees. That's what Senator Murray and her Budget Committee worked on when we passed the budget. That's where those fights come in, not at the end of the fiscal year. It's the same old tricks and techniques year after year since President Obama has been elected. The House not only wants to throw sand in the gears of the Obama administration, they want to throw cement into the gears of the functioning of government.

"Well, I think that's outrageous. The House Continuing Resolution is a manufactured crisis, driving us towards a shutdown. We have plenty of real crises in our country today. The crisis of sustained, chronic unemployment at seven percent or higher in many of my communities or in certain sectors, like construction, or in the rural parts of my state. It's also a real crisis for those who need health care. It is a real crisis for those who are seeking higher education and can't afford it.

"And look at crises in the foreign policy arena. On the very day the President is speaking at the U.N. to project American power, the other side is trying to make us powerless to function on the Senate floor. If they want to project American power, how about we show that the greatest parliamentary deliberative body in the world can be parliamentary and deliberative and solve our problems? If you want to project power, it starts right here, showing that we can govern ourselves.

"We start by acting right, focusing on solving real problems with real solutions, and getting off of this brinkmanship style. The President has said he'll veto these controversial riders. This is all designed to use up a lot of time and a lot of resources. I was elected to the Senate to be a legislator, not a prop for a political farce. This is not Gilbert and Sullivan -- this is the real deal. The American people are fed up with manufactured crises and so am I.

"So let me tell you our view about where we want to go. And who is the ‘we?’ I believe it’s not only the Democrats in the Senate. I believe that there are pragmatists on both sides of the aisle who want to find common ground. Who believe that we can begin to draw down public debt but also have an opportunity to be pro-growth in our country, that we focus on important issues of national security, rebuilding America with infrastructure, rebuilding our human infrastructure in terms of our educational system and also our research and development, in order to come up with the new ideas that will lead to the new jobs in the new century.

"Now, the other party would like us to have a Continuing Resolution through December 15th. That's one more gimmick to bring us to Christmas Eve where we have all of the theatrics and jingle bells, while we try to solve our situation. I want a short-term CR between now and November—not long term, not something just to dilly or dither. I'm tired of dilly and dither. I want a short-term CR for some time around mid-November. We would use that opportunity to get to a vote in December that would fund of all of our bills, bills arrived at by a vote here in the Senate, and a conference committee with the House.

"Our spending would be sensible, it would be affordable, it would meet compelling human need, the national security issues of the United States of America, and also rebuild our infrastructure. This isn't hard. But in order to get that, we need to clear out the toxic political items in the CR. So I want a clean CR. A clean CR means getting rid of the political riders of defunding Obamacare and striking the debt limit rider.

"Second, I want to have a shorter date. My recommendation would be around November 15th, because a longer-term CR means more autopilot functioning of government, and more government dysfunction. November 15th keeps the pressure on both sides of the aisle to cancel sequester in a balanced way. What is sequester? We have to come up with about $110 billion to reduce our debt. We can do that through additional strategic cuts. As an Appropriator, I'm willing to look at them. Number two -- revenue.

"What about those loopholes that Mitt Romney talked about? Let's bring some of those back and examine them. And let's look at some of the items in mandatory spending. This is the way that we can enact our bills and invest in our country and protect our country. Our nation faces long-term fiscal challenges, and these challenges demand action from the Congress. But the place for those negotiations is not in a Continuing Resolution. Those negotiations belong in the Budget Committee. And six of the Republican senators who are planning to filibuster this week are some of the same ones who threatened and blocked and filibuster the budget that the Senate passed, so we are unable to go to Conference with the House. They blocked the budget. Then they blame us because we don't have a budget. Go figure.

"The House and Senate Appropriations Committee, the appropriators, have marked up annual funding bills. We're ready to make sure we can go do our work, but we need the Budget Committee to give us a top line. We can't get to Conference because, as I said, Republicans have objected to this. And now they want to have a simple stopgap funding bill lead to a showdown and a shutdown.

"If we don't come together, we will have very serious consequences. If we do not act, by October 1, let me tell you what will happen. The government will shut down. Doesn't that look great for the United States of America? We say to emerging democracies all over the world, ‘hey look at us!’ We need to show that we can govern. It has consequences not only in the way we're viewed in the world, but it provides uncertainty for business. It will be terrible for our economy. It will have a direct impact on jobs. Businesses will not know what the government is going to do, so they don't know what they can do. So they will not be spending to create jobs.

"So all we're doing is creating more chaos. We want to be sure that the Small Business Administration can approve loans. They need to be open to do that. We want to be sure that rural development housing and farm loans are available to go out so we can help in that area. We want to make sure that crucial lifesaving discoveries at NIH happen. Right now, if we have a shutdown, people will not be able to be admitted to the National Institutes of Health clinical trials and programs. Weather forecasters will be told that they're not essential service. We are now looking at the impact on federal law enforcement. I could go item by item, and I will talk more about those items as time goes on.

"Let me conclude by saying this. During this last year, on both sides of the aisle, the Appropriations Committee has functioned well. I would like to thank my Democrats and my subcommittee Chairman, and I’d also like to thank the Republicans on the Committee. My vice chairman of the Committee, Senator Shelby of Alabama, has supported me in every step on the process. We functioned with civility, intellectual rigor, and open amendments during the Committee process. It was transparent. We had ‘yes’ votes, we had ‘no’ votes. But everybody had their day and everybody had their say.

"We were able to move our process forward, though we disagreed sometimes on a funding level for this or a funding level for that. But we came to a conclusion. I really want to thank them for their cooperation in the process. Now we are here where we could take the next step. Yes, we have to debate some of those line items, some of those programs. But we can't move forward unless we resolve this shutdown showdown. So let's pass a Continuing Resolution that takes us to mid-November.

"Let's make that Continuing Resolution a clean CR, which means let's get rid of the political riders. Our goal in December is that we pass an Omnibus bill that is affordable, sensible, meets compelling human needs, national security needs, invests in our human infrastructure, and also lays the groundwork for new jobs by funding research and development.

"And at the same time lets cancel sequester in a balanced way where we could make additional strategic cuts, and where we also need to look at some of the items in mandatory spending. And, yes, let's also look at some revenue. I think we can do it. And if we want to project American power, the way to do that is, right now, show that we can govern. Let's not get ourselves into a box where we're heading to a showdown. Let's not get ourselves in a situation where we end up with a shutdown, because this will not be a way that builds confidence, builds our economy, and makes America continue to be as strong as we can be."

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