Mikulski Floor Statement Opposing Republican Continuing Funding Resolution and Urging Compromise

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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 bipartisan negotiations.


The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:


“I come to the floor as Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss keeping the government open and working. The Senate has until Friday to avoid a government shutdown. 


“As I said last week, Democrats are ready to negotiate. We are willing to compromise, but we cannot capitulate on certain items. When Majority Leader McConnell filed the Republican continuing funding resolution, or the CR, he filled the tree which means we can’t amend the CR before us. So we’re stuck.


“Democrats are ready to pass a CR, but that CR should do four things. First, it should keep the government open through December 9, giving Congress time to complete the appropriations process. Second, it should respond to urgent needs by including funding to address the Zika virus, floods in Louisiana and other states, and the Flint water crisis. Third, it should be free of poison pill riders, like the rider preventing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from requiring companies to tell investors where their political contributions are going. Fourth, it should provide full year funding for veterans and military construction, including an increase of $3.5 billion for veterans medical care.


“We’ve got the funding ready for keeping promises to our veterans and defending the nation, both through the Department of Defense (DoD) and the efforts outside of the DoD that protect America. We agreed on helping fight Zika and rebuild Louisiana, but the Republican CR doesn’t help Flint and includes poison pills.


“I want to end partisan gamesmanship – no shutdown showdowns. That’s why I want to be clear about three key changes we strongly suggest. One, include the fully paid for $220 million for water infrastructure, as passed 95-3 in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), to help the people of Flint, Michigan. Two, strip out the poison pill SEC political contribution disclosure rider. And three, reduce the Zika offset package to $375 million, making it half of what was included in the original Republican Zika measure. These are reasonable changes. If the Republican caucus is willing to agree, we could pass the CR today.


“I remind my colleagues that when I became the first Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee following the death of Senator Inouye, the funding bill to respond to Hurricane Sandy was on the floor. We passed that funding to meet compelling human needs. Throughout my tenure as head of Appropriations, we have lived by the principle that we owe the American people help when disaster strikes – we can’t pick and choose which disaster victims to help.


“We must respond to Zika. More than 23,000 people have been infected in the United States and its territories, including more than 2,000 pregnant women. The potential impacts to children are severe and they last a lifetime.


“We need to help the flood victims in Louisiana. More than 146,000 people have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help. The people of Louisiana need funding to return, rebuild and recover.


“And we must help the 100,000 people of Flint still waiting for their water pipes to be clean and safe. We must help the 9,000 children with lead exposure that can cause permanent, irreversible damage. The people of Flint need help now. They needed help nine months ago – we shouldn’t wait any longer. The Senate passed $220 million of fully paid for Flint funding on the WRDA bill 95-3 last week. So why wait? Why not get them the help they need now in the CR?


“I say to the 300,000 Marylanders who are employees or retirees of the federal government: I am ready to finish our work, keep the government open and avoid shutdowns and slamdowns. I am ready to help our veterans, fight Zika, help Louisiana and help Flint. There’s still time to work this out, but until we do, I oppose cloture on the McConnell substitute.”



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