Statement Of Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On One-Week Continuing Resolution
Mr. President, the Senate is considering a stopgap Continuing Resolution to keep the government of the American people open for business. I will support this one-week CR, because I believe we are close to a bipartisan agreement that would avoid the devastating consequences of a government shutdown, and save the Congress from once again facing the disruption and humiliation of failing to meet Congress’s obligation to fund the basic functions of our government.
But we should not be in this situation. We should not have allowed partisan politics to once again turn a looming deadline into a political standoff and a manufactured crisis.
Our work could have, and SHOULD have, been completed in November. We were 98 percent to the finish line, but at the request of the then-President-elect, all work ground to a halt. For five months we have faced one partisan obstacle after another from the Trump administration, including a demand to fund a misguided wall on the southern border, at the expense of billions that would need to be borne by American taxpayers. The administration then threatened to hold hostage the basic health insurance of millions of Americans, crippling the Affordable Care Act. This is more than insulting; it is malicious, and it is wrong.
Now the other side of the aisle is holding the budget of the American people hostage, insisting that we include dozens of poison pill riders as the price for funding the people’s government, to advance their partisan agenda on abortion, Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, and the environment.
The Republicans now control both houses of Congress and the White House. If they want to pass legislation on these divisive issues, they can bring bills to the floor and vote on them. Partisan politics should not be tied to must-pass spending bills, because it is NEVER the right time to play politics with the lives of the American people and the government of the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth.
One party now controls the White House and both chambers of Congress. It is incumbent upon them to ensure that the government of the American people stays open and is fully funded. Yet this partisan bluster has threatened to derail months of bipartisan negotiations.
I hope that with one more week, our bipartisan and bicameral negotiations, consistent with the bipartisan budget agreement, and without poison pills, can continue, because this is no way to govern.
To date, negotiations have produced many positive outcomes for the American people. We have increased investments in the National Institutes of Health, secured full year Pell grants, made investments in transit and made funding available to address the opioid crisis.
We cannot and should not continue to govern by partisan, manufactured crisis.
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