Mikulski Statement on the Continuing Funding Resolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued a statement on passing a clean, short-term continuing funding resolution (CR) to keep the government open while Congress works on a new budget deal that cancels sequester and writes a bipartisan fiscal year 2016 Omnibus.
“We could pass a bill to fund the government today,” Vice Chairwoman Mikulski said. “Then we could move on to a new budget deal, raising the caps equally for defense and non-defense domestic spending.  This would allow us to write an Omnibus funding bill that protects national and community security, and invests in America, rebuilding our physical infrastructure, creating jobs today and tomorrow, and meeting compelling human needs.  Let’s show the American people that we can work across the aisle and across the dome to get the job done.”
Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s statement follows:
“It’s time give it our best to move America forward and give Americans a fair shot.  Let’s show the American people that we can work across the aisle and across the dome to get the job done.
“Instead, here we are facing another shutdown showdown. There is no reason for there to be a government shutdown. Republican leadership does not want a shutdown. Democrats don’t want a shutdown. There may be some drama, but we intend to keep the government open and avoid shutdown, slamdown politics.
“I hoped the Senate had learned its lesson in October 2013, when Republicans shut down government over the Affordable Care Act, or this February 2015, when Republicans threatened the Department of Homeland Security with shutdown over immigration policy.
“Senate Democrats won’t be threatened and bullied into accepting poison pill riders. Serious policy issues like family planning and reproductive health deserve serious debate rather than becoming an ‘add on’ rider to a funding bill.
“Shutdowns are bad for everyone, jeopardizing family checkbooks, business bottom lines, and the Federal checkbook. A shutdown makes it impossible for federal agencies to meet missions that serve the American people. A shutdown means furloughed federal employees and contractors; delayed tax returns; delayed small business loans; and delayed contracts.
“Uncertainty slows economic growth and hurts the health and wellbeing of the entire nation. When the government was closed for 16 days in 2013, the shutdown hurt our growing economy, sacrificing 120,000 private sector jobs. Billions of dollars of economic output was lost. We lost 6.6 million work days, about 850,000 federal employees were sent home.
“My home state was hit particularly hard. Maryland is home to many federal agencies. It was not just the federal workers that got hurt. The Baltimore Sun wrote about Jay Angle, the owner of Salsa Grill, a Peruvian restaurant in Woodlawn outside the Social Security Administration.  Every day, 4,700 workers go to work at Social Security, but only 500 were on the job during the shutdown. Salsa Grill counts on the Social Security workers as customers, but they weren’t there.  There were stories like Jay’s all over the country.
“Because of the 2013 shutdown, hundreds of patients couldn’t enroll in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), so their last chance for a miracle was delayed or denied. About 8,000 rural families had their home loan decisions delayed, pushing the American dream down the road.  Head Start grantees in states states closed, leaving 7,200 children at home and families searching for high quality child care.
“Avoiding shutdown is just the first step. We also need a new budget deal to cancel sequester.
“Right now our budget caps spending but it does not cap tax breaks for billionaires and corporations that send jobs overseas. Americans are angry. They feel the rules are rigged against them and that those who write the rules don’t care. But Democrats do care. We believe the people deserve a government on their side.
“That’s why we’re fighting to make sure the American people have a government that works as hard as they do.
“We have three steps to meet that goal: First, no government shutdown. We need to pass a clean, short-term continuing funding resolution with no poison pill riders to keep the government funded and open for business for as short a time as possible.  After all, a year-long CR just locks in sequester.   
“The CR will give us time to take the second step, negotiating a new budget agreement that cancels sequester and lifts the spending caps equally for defense and non-defense spending so we can protect our national security and give the American people a fair shot.
“After the new budget agreement is reached, we will take the third step, writing and enacting an Omnibus spending bill. Remember, the Appropriations Committee needs 30 days to get job done once we have our topline.
“That’s my plan to cancel sequester and put the American people first.
“Why do we want to cancel sequester? Sequester requires draconian cuts to critical programs that will have consequences for American families for a generation. Sequester was supposed to be so arbitrary and unthinkable that it would drive Congress to a budget deal. But gridlock, hammerlock and deadlock kept that from happening.
“It was the reality of sequester that led Congress to negotiate the Murray – Ryan budget deal that provided sequester relief for 2014 and 2015.
“Now we’ve got déjà vu. We need a new agreement to cancel sequester-level spending in fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
“The Republican budget for fiscal year 2016 calls for spending at the sequester level of $1.017 trillion. The President’s budget request asks for $74 billion more.  That may sound like a big number but it’s hardly expensive.  It is equal to the 2010 level – SIX years ago.
“We must cancel sequester to give Americans a fair shot by investing in our country and our people.
“Sequester hurts national security.  According to Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno, only 33 percent of our brigades are ready to fight. Without sequester relief, the Army won’t be truly ready to fight until 2025.
“Sequester keeps us from building and maintaining our physical infrastructure.  Funding to build roads, bridges and transit creates jobs while easing peoples commutes to their jobs.
“Sequester deepens our innovation deficit. Funding for basic research is an investment in jobs today and jobs tomorrow.  New ideas and discoveries lead to startups that rev up our economy and new cures for deadly diseases.
“Under spartan budgets, NIH funding hasn’t kept up with inflation.  Even the increas