Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Leahy Statement On The Continuing Resolution

The substitute amendment before us is identical to H.R. 5305, the House-passed continuing resolution, except that the provision raising the debt ceiling has been removed. 

This stop-gap measure will keep the government funded through December 3rd.  It provides $28 billion to help states ravaged by hurricanes and wildfires.  And it provides critical assistance to Afghan refugees who have fled the Taliban in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.  I urge all members to vote for it.  But it is shameful that we cannot reach agreement today to raise the debt ceiling and protect the full faith and credit of the United States. 

Over and over for the last two days we have heard from members on the other side of the aisle speak about the importance of passing a CR that contained disaster relief to help hurricane-ravaged states, like Louisiana and Texas.  They are pleading for help, and we are about to pass a CR that provides that help.  But where will the money come from to help recover and rebuild if the U.S. treasury is literally out of money? 

Many Senators here today want to provide $1 billion dollars to fund Israel’s so-called “Iron Dome.”  But if there is no money in the U.S. Treasury to pay the bills it’s nothing but an empty promise to one of our closest allies.  We’re voting on a blank check.   

According to the Treasury Department, we will reach the debt ceiling in 18 days.  Once that happens we run out of money to pay our men and women in uniform, to send out social security checks, and to take care of our veterans.  For the first time in history, the U.S. will default on its debts.  The economy would take such a hit it would take years to recover.  The stock market would plummet, putting millions of American’s lifetime savings at risk. 

The Republican Party is playing political games with the U.S. economy and with people’s livelihoods, and it is shameful.  Senator McConnell said he would not provide a single Republican vote to raise the debt ceiling.  It should not be lost on my colleagues that most of this debt was incurred under a Republican President and a Republican-controlled Senate.  As irresponsible as that is, we on the Democratic side of the aisle are prepared to show what leadership looks like and do it all on our own.  Yet the Republicans continue to filibuster.  If we do not resolve the debt issue in the coming days, make no mistake as to where the blame lies – squarely at the feet of Senate Republicans. 

We need to pass the CR today to avert a government shutdown.  A government shutdown wastes billions and accomplishes nothing.  It is essential that the Senate also unite and pass a debt limit extension or there will be no money in the Treasury to pay for the funding in this bill for American families, for the elderly, or for our troops. 

Prior to final passage, we will have a series of three amendment votes.  With only thirteen hours before the government is set to shut down, any one of these amendments could imperil the CR.   They are controversial and could complicate House passage.  I urge a no vote on all three amendments and an AYE vote on final passage.