Statement of Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On The One-Month Continuing Resolution
Today, we have before us a continuing resolution to fully fund the federal government through December 20. While I wish this step was not necessary, I urge all members to vote AYE.
I am disappointed we have to pass a second continuing resolution. I wish we were further along with our work. It is not for a lack of trying. It is no secret what is holding up negotiations—the President’s demand for $8.6 billion more for his vanity wall along the southern border. Despite the fact that he already has $10 billion on hand for his wall, $6.3 billion of which he stole from our troops and their families, and despite the fact that the vast majority of that money has yet to be spent, he wants more. Absent this issue I am certain we would have completed our work. It is déjà vu all over again—the President is once again putting his own personal interests ahead of the interests of our country.
I want to remind this chamber what is at stake in the annual appropriations bills—education for our children, cutting-edge medical research, workforce development, investments in infrastructure, support for our nation’s farmers, medical care for our veterans, addressing the opioid crisis and environmental programs to keep our air safe to breathe and our water safe to drink. All are being held up, all are being put on autopilot, because the President cares about his wall above all.
So we find ourselves at a critical juncture. Pass another continuing resolution to allow us to continue to negotiate in good faith, which I am committed to doing, or shut the government down. That is really no choice at all. The continuing resolution before us is a good bill that will allow us to continue our bipartisan and bicameral negotiations on the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process, and I urge all Senators to support it.
In addition to continuing to fund our government for four more weeks, this bill tackles some issues that must be addressed without delay. It provides the Commerce Department with the necessary funds to carry out the decennial census, provides funds for mobile centers to ensure the census reaches those in the hardest to reach areas, and fulfills our Constitutional obligation to make sure that every American is counted.
This bill includes a provision that would block a looming $7.6 billion rescission of highway funding set to hit the states on July 1, 2020. Without this provision each of our states would have seen significant cuts to their highway funding—the last thing we need given the dire state of infrastructure in America today. It includes a pay raise for the military set to go into effect in January. And it includes legislation to ensure that victims of state sponsored terrorism get the compensation they are entitled too. Most importantly, it ensures the government remains funded while we continue to work on full-year appropriations bills.
With passage of this bill we have only four short weeks to complete our work. It can be done. And I am committed to staying here as long as it takes. But this cannot be a one-sided negotiation. And we cannot be expected to agree to divert billions more in taxpayer dollars to fulfill President Trump’s cynical campaign promise as part of the final deal. It simply does not have the support in this Chamber, or among the American people, to carry the day.
That being said, we have made some progress in the last few weeks, and I am hopeful that progress can continue. It must continue. I look forward to working with Chairman Shelby, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger to get these bills across the finish line. We owe it to the American people.
CONTACT: Jay Tilton – 202-224-2667
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