Mikulski Floor Statement on the Republican-Authored Continuing Funding Resolution
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke on the Senate floor to urge opposition to the Republican-written continuing funding resolution (CR) and encourage continuing bipartisan negotiations.
The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as delivered:
“I rise as the Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee. I want to say to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle: over the past few weeks we Democrats have negotiated with the Republicans to try to come up with a responsible continuing funding resolution (CR) that keeps the government open through December 9, giving Congress time to complete the appropriations process.
“Our goal was to respond to compelling, urgent needs – including the Zika virus, Flint water crisis and floods in Louisiana – as well as strengthen our national security and our economy. We wanted to be sure the CR did not include any poison pill riders, but did contain full year funding for veterans and military construction.
“Our negotiations have been cordial and productive. I want to compliment the other side of the aisle on their professionalism and on their civility. We are now down to a handful of issues, but they are the real issues. Now the Majority Leader has filed a Republican-only bill – the substitute that has now been placed before the Senate today. We Democrats cannot vote for that substitute, and urge others to vote against it. What we want is to be sure that we avoid a government shutdown and a government showdown and continue the constructive talks that we’ve had. But the substitute offered by the Republican Majority Leader falls short.
“What is wrong with the bill before us? One, it fails to help the people of Flint, Michigan, where 100,000 people are still waiting for their water to be clean and safe, and 9,000 children already have lead exposure that can cause permanent and irreversible damage. The CR tells Michigan to keep waiting in line. We believe that the people of Flint, Michigan – who have been waiting for more than one year – should be included in this continuing resolution.
“I want to be clear, we do want to help the people of Louisiana, but we do also want to help the people of Flint. The other side of the aisle says Flint can be handled two months from now on a bill called WRDA – the Water Resources Development Act – but the House has made no commitment to help Flint in that bill. The people of Flint need help now. They actually needed help nine months ago. Remember, they’re in a bad spot because of flawed budget cuts and our failure to enact a comprehensive infrastructure bill so cities like Flint, Baltimore, and others can do something about their aging water infrastructure and at the same time create American jobs in our own urban communities. The Senate passed Flint funding on the WRDA bill 95-3 last week, so why wait? It’s paid for. We have a framework for proceeding. Let’s just do it.
“Also, while Democrats continue to fight for Flint, we will not stand by on partisan policy riders, like the one on Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) political disclosures, to a ten-week continuing funding resolution. I know the 135,000 Marylanders who work for the federal government want to stay on the job. And I want them to know that we are working very hard to keep the government open and to avoid a shutdown or a slamdown.
“But we need to make sure we help our veterans. We need to make sure we have the funds to fight Zika and for the terrible challenge that comes with children being born with the most horrific and lifelong handicaps – no matter how short their little lives might be. And we want to help Flint. And most of all, know that in a $1 trillion budget – that funds both domestic and military – we have a framework to move ahead.
“Really serious work has been done here on national security. There’s funding for the Department of Defense and funding for other agencies that contribute to our national security – from the State Department and their diplomatic efforts to the Department of Homeland Security. And boy did they do a good job responding last weekend to the challenges in New York. At the same time we need to keep the lights on for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and their agencies like the National Institutes of Health, so that they can keep the light of hope going on and make sure we find cures for diseases.
“We appreciate the Republican Majority Leader for continuing the conversation with us. We are a work in progress. Let’s get back to work. Let’s continue to make progress. We’ve taken steps forward. Let’s not take steps sideways or take steps backward. Let’s continue making progress. Let’s get rid of the poison pill riders. Let’s come to an agreement on how we can help Louisiana and help Flint and resolve some of these other issues. We look forward to more conversation, more constructive conversation, and our side of the aisle stands ready to engage in those conversations and negotiations. And I urge my colleagues to be on standby so that we can keep doing the job we were elected to do.”
Contact: Mara Stark-Alcalá (202) 224-2667
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