Senator Collins Calls on Colleagues to Support FY24 Six-Bill Appropriations Package, Avert Shutdown


Collins: “Why in the world would we want to shut down government and stop serving the American people?”


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Washington, D.C. Ahead of the U.S. Senate’s procedural vote today to advance the six-bill Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations package, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor to urge her colleagues to pass the bipartisan legislative package without delay. Following her remarks, this package successfully cleared the procedural hurdle, and it now awaits final passage in the Senate. 


Senator Collins helped lead negotiations on the legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming 339-85 vote on Wednesday afternoon.  Senate passage of the appropriations package would also avoid a partial government shutdown set for midnight tonight.


A transcript of Senator Collins’ remarks are as follows:


“Mr. President, I had intended in my remarks to go through each of these bills and point out how critical they are to our communities across America.  The Chair has done that to some extent, and she has also thanked our great team of appropriators for their very hard work.


“But instead of going through the provisions, I want to offer my colleagues a warning.


“If we do not act at midnight tonight, we will have a partial government shutdown. 


“It will affect the Department of Agriculture.  It will impair the work of the Food and Drug Administration.  It will prevent military construction projects from going forward.


“Do we really want a veteran who has bravely and loyally served his country, and is now trying to file a claim for benefits, to find that the Veterans Benefits Administration's doors are closed to him or her?  Is that what we want to have happen?


“It also would affect the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Departments.  We've got an affordable housing crisis.  Do we want WARN Notices to go out to those who are working on transportation projects, that they may lose their job if they're in the private sector, because we didn't get our work done?


“It would affect the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers. 


“Why in the world would we want to shut down government and stop serving the American people?


“I have heard a lot of statements made on the Senate floor and elsewhere that, regrettably, are not accurate.


“One is that none of these bills has been subjected to the opportunity for debate and amendments. 


“The fact is, Mr. President, every single one of these appropriations bills was individually considered by the Appropriations Committee.  Every single one of them was subject to robust debate and amendments – every single one of them.  Many of them were passed unanimously.  Others with only one dissenting vote.


“And furthermore, three of the bills that we're talking about right now – the Agriculture and FDA bill, the Mil-Con-VA bill, and the Transportation and HUD bill – were brought to the Senate floor. 


“So, to say, as one of my colleagues said, that there was no opportunity for amendments and debate, is flat-out wrong.  Those bills were on the floor for about seven weeks – we had 40 amendments.


“So, I would urge my colleagues to stop playing with fire here.  The House, controlled by Republicans, passed these bills as a package – the six bills – with a very strong, bipartisan vote, with the majority of the majority voting for them.


“It would be irresponsible for us not to clear these bills and do the fundamental job that we have of funding government. 


“What is more important?


“So, I urge my colleagues to vote ‘yes’ on cloture, and I hope next year that we can bring all of the bills to the Senate floor for the kind of robust debate and amendments that we had on three of the six bills before us.  But keep in mind that we had each and every bill in committee, after we had 50 public hearings and briefings.


“Thank you, Mr. President.”