tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 7, 2013 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT
judicial nominations at 5:00. votes on nominations at 5:30 p.m. on the other side of the capital, the house working on partial short-term funding bills that senate majority leader harry reid says are a nonstarter in the senate. we want to take you live now to the floor o of the house for lie coverage here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer.
the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, our stronghold and defense, your judgments and will are perfect, so we place our trust in you. thank you for the privilege of speaking to you in daily prayer. forgive us when our prayers are so other worldly they are no earthly good. forgive us also when we put politics ahead of progress. lord, strengthen our senators today, helping them to not throw away their confidence in you.
inspire them to persevere in seeking to do your will, knowing that your promises are sure and that the harvest is certain. we pray in your holy name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., october 7, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing
rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable anbus s. king jr., a senator from the state of maine to perform the duties of the chair. signed patrick j. leahy. president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks the senate will be in a period of morning business for debate only until 5:00 p.m. today. and during that period of time senators will be allowed to speak for up to ten minutes each. at 5:00 the senate will proceed to a vote on the bruce and ellis nominations. both are to be district court judges in the state of illinois. at 5:30 there will be at least one roll call vote on confirmation of the nominations. mr. president, yesterday the speaker of the house, representative john boehner, on national tv claimed there are enough votes to pass -- there are not enough votes to pass the
bill that can stop the shutdown. 200 members who said they are democrats said they would vote for the bill to reopen the government. 22 republicans in the house said publicly that they would vote for the bill. and we've heard there are as many as 100 who want to vote for it. no matter how you do the math, it adds up to a majority of members of the house of representatives. now if there were only a mechanism for polling all members of the house of representatives to find out whether they support the senate-passed bill, one sure-fire way to find out whether the bill would pass is to have a vote on it. that's to vote on the legislation that's already been passed here in the senate. so there is a way. have a vote. that would settle the question for a long, long time, wouldn't it? so what i say to the speaker, allow a vote on the resolution that would end the shutdown,
legislation that you, john boehner, proposed in the first place. the entire federal government could reopen for business by tomorrow morning. so i ask the speaker, why are you afraid? are you afraid this measure will pass, the government will reopen and americans will realize you took the country hostage for no apparent reason? why is the speaker opposed to these reasonable solutions? mr. president, across the nation people are suffering, not only federal employees because of his irresponsible action. the irresponsible tea party-driven action. but it's not, i say, only federal employees. u.s. air had the delivery last friday of $180 million aircraft. they couldn't take delivery.
why? because there weren't inspectors to do that for those aircraft. we know that lockheed has already announced today they're laying off 3,000 people and more to come, in the defense industry; it's happening all through government. but there's an easy way out of this. the same escape hatch that's been available as long as we've been a country. it's called a vote. but for the seven days the federal government has been closed for business, the speaker has refused to use that escape hatch. mr. president, this is so important. to buy a home, you can't buy an f.h.a. home today, and even those not f.h.a., you can't get them done because to confirm the amount of money that somebody puts on their application, you need the i.r.s. person to check it. they're not available.
the senate passed bill to open the government while we work out our differences wasn't my idea. it was his idea. the speaker of the house of representatives said you do this c.r. at this number, and i will get it done. so we negotiate for awhile. i agreed to his number. it was very hard to do for we in the democratic caucus, but it was his idea. not my idea. all this talk about not negotiating, that's what that was all about. he admits it was his intention all along to pass a clean resolution. but then he ran into the tea party, a majority within a majority that runs the majority over in the house of representatives. the bill before the house of representatives is a compromise by us, a compromise that was difficult -- i repeat -- to get
my caucus to accept. now that we've compromised, the speaker won't take "yes" for an answer. he's moved the goal again, though. last week he said he wanted to go to conference to work out some differences. as we heard on national tv yesterday, he's not only concerned about obamacare, he's concerned about budget deficit, as we all are. but he keeps changing. so he said he wanted to talk about that. fine, we're happy to do that. he wants to talk about obamacare, he wants to talk about anything else, we'll do it. i put that in writing, had it hand delivered to him. we said that we would talk about agriculture. we'd talk about health care. we'd talk about domestic discretionary spending, military spending, anything he wants to talk about. we've been asking to go to conference on a responsible budget for more than six months.
six months. on national tv the speaker said chairman ryan and chairman murray have been working together for a long time. well, as i've indicated here previously, he said that in a meeting we had in the white house in the last few days. i said in front of everybody there, it's simply not factual. senator murray issued a statement yesterday after she heard him say this on national tv, saying that's not true. they have had a couple meetings, but they haven't discussed anything substantive. i guess the meeting was just for the speaker to say they met, but they talked about nothing in her budget or his budget. so we're saying simply, reopen the government. we have said we'll go to your budget number. we don't like it. we said we'll go to conference and talk about anything you
want. he can't take "yes" for an answer, mr. president. simply reopen the government. we'll talk -- i repeat -- about anything you want to talk about. we're not afraid to negotiate. we're not afraid to make reasonable compromises. but once again, the football was moved, just like lucy in the peanuts cartoon. as judd ogoom, editor-in-chief of think progress pointed out republicans have a strange position on compromise. here's how he explained it. republicans ask, can i burn down your house? we say, no. republicans ask, how about burning down the second floor? we say, no. republicans ask, how about just the garage? we say no. republicans say let's talk about what i can burn down. and we say no. and they say you're not compromising.
republicans insist we must negotiate while the federal government remains closed. as a "new york times" editorial reported on saturday, we know this. 800,000 federal employees are furloughed, government services shut down and the economy is flagging. it is hardly time for talking. and then, mr. president, they come up with all this we'll do an n.i.h. bill. we'll open n.i.h.. the problem is, mr. president, it's really hard to pick and choose between that, park service, especially when you consider they cut spending this year, this year for n.i.h. for $1.46 billion. the second year of their famous sequestration, $2 billion. this is all a charade. so here's what "the time" wrote after a brief introduction -- and i quote -- "this is a moment
for immediate action to reopen the government's doors. not the beginning of a conversation. republicans spurned that when they lapped the luxury of a shutdown. republicans refused to negotiate over the president's budget and they rhee fused to negotiate -- refused to negotiate to make a health law more efficient. the two sides will have to reach a reckoning over long term government issues but the time to do so is not while hanging over a cliff. democrats agree we're willing to negotiate. we won't negotiate with a gun to our heads. we say to our republican colleagues, end this irresponsible government shutdown. stop your reckless threats of a default on the nation's obligations. then democrats will negotiate over anything, anything our republican colleagues want to negotiate."
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: well, we're now in the second week of a government shutdown that nobody claims to want. democrats say it's unreasonable to ask for any changes or delays to obamacare, and republicans, well, we think the obamacare rollout has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt just how reasonable a delay is. i mean, if anybody had any doubts about the need to delay this thing, those doubts should have been allayed this weekend when the administration admitted its web site wasn't working and took it off-line for repairs. tkhraeup and basic -- delay and basic fairness are what republicans are asking for at this point, not exactly the sun and the moon. another thing republicans have been saying is that we can't
agree on a bill to fund -- that if we can't agree on a bill to fund the entire government, let's at least past the most urgent pieces of it. let's at least pass the parts we can all agree on. and that's exactly what the house has begun to do. over the past several days the two parties in the house have responsibly come together and passed no fewer than eight bills to fund things like the coast guard, the guard and reserve, and programs for veterans. in other words, the house has quietly shown that the two parties aren't completely at odds in this debate, that there is in fact some common ground here. slowly but surely the house has approved funding for folks who shouldn't get caught in the middle of a political impasse like this. and they've done it on a bipartisan basis. over the weekend the house passed a bill that said a government shutdown doesn't affect the free exercise of religion on military bases.
184 democrats agreed. another bill said government workers shouldn't have to wonder how they're going to pay their bills during a shutdown. 189 democrats agreed with that. the bill to fund fema drew 23 democrats. the one to fund n.i.h. drew 25. national parks, 23. so let's be clear here that the problem isn't the house. there is actually a fair amount of agreement among republicans and democrats over there that lawmakers have the duty and a responsibility that rises above the politics of the moment to fund things like veterans, cancer trials, the national guard and reservists in every state. the problem is the senate. look, i know democrats don't like it, but the american people have given us divided government. two elections in a row now, they gave us a republican house and they gave us a democratic senate. that means negotiation isn't a
luxury. it's a necessity. and until senate democrats accept that reality, these crises will only be harder to resolve, so i would suggest that they start thinking about how they might start playing a constructive role in the crisis and in the challenges that lie ahead. there is a time for politics, there is a time for sitting down like adults and working things out. republicans are ready and willing to negotiate. we invite senate democrats to join us. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 5:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, let me start off by acknowledging an article which appeared in today's "new york times," a tribute to the senate chaplain, dr. barry black, who led us in
prayer to open this senate session. it's entitled "give us this day our daily senate scolding," and it goes on to talk about the prayers which dr. black, our senate chaplain, has offered during the course of the last week in the government shutdown. as they say in the article, the morning invocation has turned into a daily conscience check for the 100 men and women of the united states senate. he said at one point in the course of one of his prayers, dr. black said "remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism. forgive them the blunders they have committed." i can't match his baritone voice and delivery when it comes to these prayers, but i ask unanimous consent to enter this article into the "congressional record" as a tribute to our senate chaplain who is being given awesome responsibility to prove the power of prayer in the midst of a government shutdown. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president,
something interesting -- i picked up the newspaper, or at least went online to look at the newspapers from illinois this morning, and two stories just jumped right off the page. one was in the "bloomington panograph." what a great story it is about how proud i am to be from the midwest and represent some people who just by their nature are pretty darned extraordinary. it's a story that comes out of lexington, illinois, yesterday. 60 area farmers, truckers and their families, gathered north of lexington on a sunday morning to go to work to pay back a friend who had helped them out at one time or another during his 71-year lifetime. 16 combines harvested more than 300 acres of corn as friends of dave thomas brought in thomas' last harvest. thomas died of a heart attack on july 22. his wife sharon and four sons decided to end family farm operations. he went on to say how it broke up the family's heart to give up this family farm, but these
neighbors pitched in. they wanted to harvest david thomas' land and to make sure that last crop was brought in for his family. it is the kind of compassion and caring and family and community which we see in many states but i see over and over again in my home state of illinois. it's not unique. it happens often. every time it does, it's worthy of note because it's such a special comment on the people of this great nation and their caring for their neighbors. the area farmers in shinoa, not too far from lexington, are planning a similar harvest operation for another neighbor, dave harrison, this morning. dave passed away last week. time and again, these farm families put aside their own physical comfort, their own daily schedules, their own lives to help one another. it just is such a wonderful comment on this great nation that we call home and the area that i am so proud to represent. the second article that just jumped off the page after i read
this came out of kansas, wichita, kansas, and quoted tim peterson. he's a wheat farmer. i'm not as familiar with wheat as i am with corn and soybeans, but he started talking about the problems he is running into. his problems are created by us, because, you see, tim doesn't have access to vital agricultural reports. they are casualties of the federal government shutdown. we have stopped publishing this information. farmers like tim peterson and others are forced to make some very important family decisions, some important financial decisions without the necessary information. the reports can alert them to shortfalls in overseas markets or if there is a wide swing in acres planted, both of which might prompt u.s. growers to plant extra crops to meet demands or hang onto harvests a little longer for a better price. here farmers across the midwest have worked hard to reach this point in the harvest where they
can make enough money to live to plant another year, to sustain themselves and their families and their communities around them. they have a problem, and the problem is the politicians in washington who want to shut down the government. what a contrast. farmers who rallied in lexington, illinois, for the family of a fallen farmer to show that they would stand by him through thick and thin and help him out -- at least his family out through this adversity, and then this article and story out of kansas where the congressmen and senators sent to washington to do their job and to provide the basic information for these farmers have failed, and in failing make it much more difficult for these farmers. two articles in this morning's paper from the central part of the united states of america, which really bring home to me the graphic human side of this government shutdown. something else brought it home personally, mr. president. when harry reid, our majority leader, announced we weren't going to have votes on saturday or sunday, i took the opportunity to get out of town,
and i raced off to be with my grandkids. i have got two twin grandchildren, 22 months old, and i just love them to pieces. i thought getting away with them is exactly what i need to get out of this town and to get my mind straight after a tough political week. we had a ball. we did the normal things you would expect, going to the park and reading polar bear, polar bear, what do you hear, and all of the things that are just fun for a grandfather. there were a couple moments, though -- you see, they are almost 2 years old. there were a couple of moments on the weekend where one of them would lose it for just a little while and start crying and screaming uncontrollably, saying the word no over and over again, unable to express themselves because they just don't have the vocabulary to tell us what's on their mind, and in those moments, i felt like i was back in washington again. the terrible 2 temper tantrums sounded like congress. people shouting no and screaming
uncontrollably and unable to express what they're doing and why they're doing it, and that's where we find ourselves today. in the morning talk shows yesterday on sunday, a number of leaders came to speak, and of course everybody was focused on speak boehner because he is really the captain of this ship when it comes to the government shutdown, and it was interesting to me that what guided this government shutdown last week, obamacare, the health care reform bill, they are not talking about so much anymore. it's been launched and nine million people across america have visited the web sites because they are interested in finding maybe health insurance for the first time in their lives or health insurance they can afford, nine million. and because so many people have come to these web sites, the republican leader is right. we have had troubles getting them moving forward. it will take a few days to adjust to this volume of people coming on board to try to find out whether this insurance exchange can help them, their
family, their business. the good news for senator mcconnell from kentucky, my colleague, is that his state has been a real success story. 8,000 people have already signed up in kentucky for health insurance on the insurance exchange of obamacare. i hope that senator mcconnell and senator rand paul take some pride in the fact that now 8,000 kentuckians, at least 8,000, have health insurance they can afford and they can trust, some of them for the first time in their lives. i listened to this and wondered how these senators from kentucky and some other states can say we want to repeal this, we want to get rid of this. what are they going to tell those 8,000 people, those families who finally have health insurance for the first time? bigamies take, sorry. go back to the marketplace where you have no health insurance protection. that is hardly a response that americans want to hear in kentucky, illinois, in maine or any other state. what we're trying to do with obamacare, the health care
reform act, is to open up an opportunity for 40 million to 50 million americans to have health insurance they can afford for the first time in their lives, and what we've heard from the other side of the aisle is repeal it, defund it, delay it, do anything you can to stop it, stop it. you know why they want to stop it? because they understand that once people's appetites are whetted for health care insurance they can afford and insurance where they can protect their families, there is no turning back. we're at a point in history, much as we were with the creation of social security and medicare, where we are offering to families across america something they couldn't do by themselves and something that they will value very, very much as part of their family's and their future, and that is what is driving this fear on the other side of the aisle. that's what's driving the government shutdown. mr. president, what's worse is october 17, the next deadline, it's not that far away. in another nine or ten days,
we're going to face a debt ceiling expiration. the debt ceiling is basically america's mortgage. we have to extend our mortgage. we borrow money to manage our government, to fight wars, to pay our military, to do the most basic things, and when we borrow that money, we have to have authorization from the government. that's the debt ceiling. many of the same senators and congressmen who voted for this spending now will not vote to pay the bill. that's like eating the big meal at the restaurant and then when the waiter brings the check saying i ain't paying. well, how long would that last? that's what many are suggesting when they say we're not going to extend the debt ceiling. they have eaten the meal. they just don't want to pay the bill. it would be the first time in the history of the united states that we would default on our national debt, the first time that we would basically violate the full faith and credit of the united states of america, and it has its consequences. the last time the tea party did this, america's credit rating suffered. well, what happens when our credit rating suffers? the interest rates we pay go up.
taxpayers are paying more to china and countries that loan us money than they are paying to educate children or build roads or do medical research. well, here we go again. another threat by the speaker that we're going to default on our national debt again. they threatened it two years ago. they have come back, the tea party has come back again. this is totally irresponsible. i read the newspapers from different countries, and they look at the united states and shake their head, and they wonder if this, a country which many say, and i can certainly see reason for it, is one of the leaders of the world and can find itself in this manufactured political crisis again and again and again. it's like the temper tantrums of terrible 2's when you hear this and think it's totally unnecessary. we have to help these kids grow up and get through it. america has got to grow up and stand up, say to congress it's time for you to grow up and stand up and do the right thing for the future of this country.
i hope that we can do this and i hope we can do it together in a bipartisan fashion. this shutdown of the federal government should end today. the speaker has before him a continuing resolution which he could pass, he could pass in a heart beat and the -- in a heartbeat and the government would be extended. the farmer out in kansas would have the information he needs. the medical researcher would be back at work at the national institutes of health. all of the agencies of the government would be functioning for the good of the people of america. that's what we were sent here to do. there are no excuses, no political reasons not to. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: mr. president, i want to thank the senator from illinois and the distinguished majority whip for bringing up chaplain barry black's name in the article that appeared in "the new york times." i know that senator durbin and i do a lot of things together. one of them is every wednesday morning or just about every wednesday morning, we attend the senate prayer breakfast. replete through all of barry's
prayers is one word, and that's humility. i think that article in "the new york times," the message and prayers in the last seven or eight days in the senate and the message to all of us right now is we need to grasp a little humility and find common ground among consternation and move this nation forward. i want to make my suggestion for what it's worth and i want to make my suggestion along with senator collins from maine who last week made her proposal. if we can't find common ground in the arguments we have today, let's try for new proposals that give us a chance to solve our problem. susan collins made a great suggestion to replace the medical device tax with other revenues so it doesn't cut the revenue and to get back to sequestration but only by cutting by the defense agencies, not by cutting across the board. that made a lot of sense. it made a way to absorb those cuts but do so in a professional way. so i come to the floor today in a robert frost moment. you know that poem, i took the road less traveled by, that made all the difference. we have been traveling down the wrong road for far too long.
we are here today in large measure arguing over a c.r. that we shouldn't have to argue over. had we been doing our appropriation and doing our budgets over the last four years, the money would have been spent, the regular order would have been in place, the fiscal year moneys would have been appropriated and there would be no need for a c.r. and there is bipartisan responsibility for not having done a budget or appropriations acts. the leadership obviously controls the floor so they can bring the appropriations acts aboard and that's their responsibility, but we have also cried out on our side for a budget, for year after year let's have a budget. now we have a budget, one approved by the house, one approved by the senate, but an inability to go to conference because we can't get agreement on preconditions. once again, a situation of negotiating over what's important to the american people. so i have a suggestion. a decision that 20 states have exercised in our country that have made them better, a decision the state of israel made two or three years ago when they went to the world bank for
suggestions. let's force our c.r. and add to it a simple resolution that changes our way of doing business to a biennial budget and appropriations act where we force ourselves to appropriate over two years and not one and make those appropriations in the odd numbered years so the even numbered years we do only oversight. it would make a lot of difference for the american people if we were arguing over not how much bacon we were bringing home but how much money we're saying through oversight, savings and accountability. i've introduced that legislation along with senator shaheen, a governor who ran a state under a biennial budget. it makes sense, it's humble, it's the right way to do business and ends the necessity of having continuing resolutions at the last minute because you didn't do our job. let's face it, we're here today in the conundrum we're in because we did not do our job. we didn't pass a budget and get a conference committee, we didn't have appropriations acts so we're doing a continuing resolution into a new fiscal year. that's no way to run the
greatest country on the face of this earth. four years and running we've shirked our responsibilities. it's time for a new day in the senate, it's time for a biennial budget. it worked for israel. if it works for 20 states, it will work for us. it establishes priorities, ends fraud, waste, and abuse, brings about good decisions. just last night on "60 minutes" senator tom coburn from oklahoma was -- the feature was s.s.i. disability and the fact that we now pay $135 billion a year in s.s.i. disability payments, a trebling of those costs in just a few years and fully 25% to 40% we know is fraudulent. it's $40 billion to $60 billion. you can do a lot with that money. that's why transparency and oversight works. there's nobody better than the senator from oklahoma in terms of oversight. when he knows he's right he's going to work hard and that's away what we all somebody doing. referring to the senator from
oklahoma i'd go back to the work force investment act which senator murray and i are working hard to bring to the floor. in that senator coburn found nine duplicative programs, we're appropriating money to nine different agencies to do work force training when we ought to be doing bun one. if we were budgeting on a two-year basis and doing oversight in even nurmd years there would be no limit to the success weiss could have and the lack of cliff management which we're in today. the debt ceiling that faces us in about ten days is a debt ceiling that faces us because we have to borrow more money to run our government because we're not doing fiscal accountability, we're not doing appropriating and we're going to continue for that to grow and grow and grow and grow. as a businessman and a saver i know what the time value of money is. the time value of money means if you put away a little money and save for your kids' education, health care, whatever it might be, when the time comes you'll
need it, you'll have it. but i know what the time cost of money is. when you're borrowing money to pay off borrowed money and that's where we are in the united states of america today. i would submit and humbly that the shaheen-isakson legislation that forces us to do our regular order of business of appropriating, forces us to budget and forces us to do it every year, puts us back to the kind of discipline and job responsibility we really need around this place. instead of arguing about away what we can't agree upon we ought to find common ground and run our country owe household like america's households run their families. if we had to do in washington what every american family has to do, this would be a different place. it's time we found humility, found common ground, did what the state of israel has done and what 67 senators said we ought to do in the budget debate in march, pass a biennial appropriations act and end this foolishness and gain back the
humility we richly deserve. i'd like to ask unanimous consent to be allowed two extra minutes to pay tribute to a physician in my county. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: i'd like to it to appear separate in the record if you don't mind. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: we had a discussion two weeks about skin cancer and we shared a common experience and we confronted a melanoma at one time in our lives. this friday night clr dlem boxley of mayor marietta, chieff staff at a leading determine technologies around the united states of america, a real inspares separation to me, who led me to pass the tan act along with senator reid and john mccain who came together to bring about awareness for skin cancer, for medical melanoma, a citizen that contributes to us an idea that's the law of the land in the united states of america and one i'm sure that will help some save lives.
clem is retiring after 43 years in practice. a leader in rotary, in citizens' organized and a -- organizations. he fraughted from the pensacola school of medicine and went to vietnam in the united states marine corps. he returned to be a physician and get his residency training at tulane in new orleans, louisiana, and then came to marietta georgia and founded marietta determine technology, the leading practice in the state of georgia. he retires this friday night but i walk around on these two feet in part because clem taught me early awareness, identification and the right practices to deal with skin cancer. i thank him on the floor of the senate what he's done for me and countless patients in the great city of marietta and the county of cobb. i yield back my time and i note -- i take that back.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to thank the senator from georgia for his call on this place to get back to regular order and to bridge our differences. i think it's an important one and a noble and hopefully easy request for us to ultimately follow. mr. president, i came down here this weekend to talk about a young woman in bridgeport, connecticut, who is at the epicenter of the fallout of this shutdown, and i wanted to come back down here on monday to tell her story very briefly once again. because the way the lot of trade papers cover this shutdown it makes it seem as if this is just about politics and if you listen to some commentatorrors and some members of the tea party crowd in the house of representatives they'll tell you that what
you're going to find in the shutdown is everybody is going to learn the government doesn't do that much and it's not that big a deal if it goes away for a couple of months, a couple weeks, a couple days. what we're finding as we enter week two of the shutdown is that we have now moved past the point where the collapse of the government is just an inconvenience, it is now ruining lives. and i wish that melanie rhodes was the exception but she is increasingly becoming the rule across the country. mr. president, you heard me tell her story this weekend, but i'm going to do it again. melanie was homeless a couple years ago. she's -- lives in the southwestern portion of connecticut, she hit really hard times. but she decided to pull her life together not least of the reasons being that she had a little boy. she had a son, malachi. and malachi was born two about two months premature and he was
born with some developmental disabilities that luckily because of a government program they caught early on. a program called birth to 3, in connecticut it's our early intervention programs, most states haveth. one of the programs that's going to run out of up funds soon if we don't turn back on the faucet to state governments. but even more important to medical melanie was through that early intervention screening am pram that figured out that malachi needed extra help they got him into a head start program. he wasn't even one years old when he started the head start program. today he's 3 and is making incredible progress. he's got some serious issues. he's just learning how to communicate now with some signs that he's been taught, but he's doing better and doing better every single day. on monday night of last week, melanie stayed up all night, stayed up all night watching as to whether the government was still going to be operating
because she knew that the bridgeport head start program works on a fiscal year that matches ours so if the government shut down on october 1, the check wouldn't come to bridgeport head start and they would have to send 1,000 kids home. but she also knew that her life was starting to get brighter in other ways as well. she had been looking for a job for a long time and she had done everything we asked of her, applied to everybody she could think of from wal-mart to walgreens to mcdonald's and hadn't found anything until a bus company decided to hire her as a driver. she was waiting for her background check, and she was going to start work. the only way she could starred work was if she had care for her child and as she said, she can't leave malachi with just anybody because he's a kid with substantial difficulties and his caregivers need to know how to take care of him. if there is no head start, no school for malachi, he
regressness terms of progress he's made and she can't start her job. her family essentially collapsed -- collapses around her, simply because this place can't pass a budget. that's what's happening to melanie rhodes and she says simply this: we need our government and our businesses open. why should we suffer and be held hostage while government can't do what they need to do? her story can be repeated thousands of times across connecticut. i think i saw today about 18,000 head start slots are going to be closed by the end of this week. unfortunately, her story is not the exception, it's becoming the rule. this is what this shutdown means. it's not play acting, it's real. and as i watched some of the shows over the weekend i heard a familiar refrain from our republican colleagues. they said you know what, yeah, we have this demand we want the
health care law delayed or repealed or defunded in order to get the government up and operating but really it's the democrats, it's harry reid, it's president obama who won't sit down and negotiate. if they just sit down and negotiate, then we could end this whole thing. and i understand how some people might watch that claim and think to themselves yeah, wait a second, why won't the democrats sit down and talk about this? so, mr. president, i just want to address this claim, that the only thing stopping us from opening back up government is that the democrats won't talk to republicans. i want to address this that in five simple ways. first, i want to make the point that virtually every single one of my colleagues has made, we've already talked. because what we thought we were talking about was a continuing resolution, a temporary budget that would keep the government operating for about six weeks. and a lot of democratic critics
actually would argue that we didn't really negotiate that well over that particular issue because in the end, the senate passed a budget with a particular number for the continuing resolution, the house passed a budget with a particular number for the continuing resolution, the difference was pretty substantial, and in the end, the senate just decided to go with the house number. we didn't settle in between, we didn't settle closer to ours or closer to there's, we just took the house number. and so we kind of feel like on the subject at hand which is the continuing resolution, the negotiations already happened and we gave the house everything they wanted. there's not much more to negotiate after you give them everything. when it comes to the bottom-line number in a continuing resolution. second, it's kind of hard to have a negotiation when only one side is making demands.
we don't have any demands in this negotiation. all we want is for the things that normally happen to continue to happen. i.e., we want the government to stay open on the exact same terms the government was open last week and the week before, we want the country to pay our bills just like we have paid our bills for a generation. it is only republicans -- and, frankly, not all republicans. most, frankly, of the republicans in the senate are not making these demands. it's mainly a small handful in the house and the senate who say in order to keep the government open we want health care, the health care law defunded or repealed or delayed. it's difficult to have a negotiation when all we want is the status quo. it's kind of like if two people lived in a house and one of them said you know what, i'm going to take the roof off the house.
if you don't do what i want. you wouldn't really negotiate that. that's an unreasonable demand. 2 roof just needs to be there. it's something that for good reason is normally not the subject of debate or negotiation. and you wouldn't settle for half, you wouldn't allow your roommate to take half the roof off or three-quarters. the roof needs to be there. if you're angry or you want to talk about something, let's do it while the roof is still on top of us. can't negotiate over the government just operating. we can't negotiate over whether or not we're going to pay our bills. we don't want anything. we just want things to happen as they have happened in the past. third, this place just can't operate if in order to keep the government open for six weeks we have to satisfy everybody's personal political agendas. mr. president, i also said this
weekend, i have things i feel really strongly about. i represent sandy hook, connecticut. i -- i would submit that i feel just as strongly about background checks as the senator from texas does about repeal of the health care bill. but it would be unreasonable for me to say that i'm not going to vote for a budget just because i don't get my way on background checks or immigration reform or tax fairness or whatever it may be that i care about outside the confines of the continuing resolution. if all 100 senators had to get their particular nonbudgetary political points settled as a requirement of passing a continuing resolution, this place would just absolutely collapse. now, maybe that's what some people want. maybe some people wanted government to collapse and the government to shut down. but when i hear people talk on this floor, i take them at face value, that that's not what they want. ultimately, we all can't get what we need all the time.
fourth, you normally need to compromise when you don't have consensus, when you don't have agreement, when both the senate and the house don't have the majority of their members agreeing to the exact same thing. in that case, you need to negotiate because clearly we don't have consensus and so we have to get two sides together to find consensus. we have consensus. we have a bill that the majority of senators support, the majority of house members support, the president is ready to sign the minute it gets to his desk. that is what is referred to as a clean continuing resolution, a bill that would keep the government praight fo operatinge next six weeks on the same way it was operating beforehand. the only reason that is not law today is because speaker boehner will not bring up that for a vote in the house. but it reportedly enjoys the house of more than 216 members of the house, which is what you need today to get that bill passed, and it has already
passed the senate. and lastly, as senator durbin talked about, what republicans are demanding as their condition to keep the government up and operating is no less than the repeal of the signature of president obama's first term. the most important bill that i have ever worked on, the most important vote that i have ever cast. that is the health care law, which is today saving millions of dollars for senior citizens in their medicare benefit and right now is providing a lifeline to millions of americans who need cheaper insurance. it's why poll after poll tells you that, you know, although people are still split on whether they agree with the exact prescription for our
health care economy laid out in the bill that we passed, they sure as heck don't want us to repeal the law. by about a 2-1 margin people say, no, don't repeal the law, let it go into effect, give it a shot. it's also why by a 3-1 margin, people don't agree with shutting down the government over the repeal of the health care law. it's why 9 million people have gone on to the federal health care reform web site to see what their options are. it's why, as senator durbin said, even in states like kentucky, people are signing up by the thousands in th. in the first day of con's exchange -- connecticut's exchange, we had more visits than in the entire month previous. people are desperate for lowe lower-cost health care out there. sick people and families with sick children have been waiting lifetimes to finally be able to get insurance for their loved ones. people need this health care reform law to go into effect.
and it is simply not true, as the senator from texas and others have said, that people don't want this law. they have showed us how bald and how desperately they need it by the flood of interest in the exchanges over the first week. and in poll after poll, the american people say loudly they don't want this thing repealed. it's hard to get major social change passed in this town. the founding fathers intentionally set up a process by which something like health care reform seems nearly impossible. that's why it took a hundred years since teddy roosevelt first proposed that we guarantee access to our health care system to all americans for it to happen. because you've got a lot of chances for that idea to crater. you need both chambers to pass the exact same bill, you need a president willing to sign it, you need the courts to uphold it and then you need the electorate
to confirm it when everybody that voted for it stands for reelection again. the reason why we are implementing the health care law today and the reason why most americans want it to go forward is because we passed every single one of those tests. for the first time in a hundred years, the exact same proposal to reform our nation's health care system passed with a majority of beau the house and the senate -- both the house and the senate, was signed by the president. the supreme court reviewed the law and stamped that it was constitutional. and then president and every member of the senate that voted for the health care bill went out to stand for reelection in 2012 based on the promise that they would continue to implement the law. the president was reelected by a resounding margin and every senator in this chamber who voted for the health care law won reelection. the bill passed, courts upheld it, voters confirmed their original choices.
people want this law. we already compromised on the amount in the continuing resolution. this can't be much of a negotiation when all we want is for the government to stay up and operating and for us to pay our bills. this place can't work if every time you negotiate a budget, everybody has to have their own political priorities taken care of. we don't need to negotiate because we already have a bill that enjoys the support of both chambers and will be signed by president if only the house of representatives would call it for a votemen vote. and the idea that people don't want the health care law simply is not borne out, either by the polls or by people's conduct on the exchanges over the last two weeks. melanie rhodes is waiting for an answer from us, mr. president. malikai needs to get back into
preschool asap. he's a little > autistic boy whn every single day he sits home by himself is marching a little bit more quickly backwards off of the progress that this program funded not by government but by all of us because we thought it was important that little boys with autism growing up in poor families with moms that used to be hopeless should have a chance at success in life. every day that we continue to reverse our collective decision as a society that malakai should get some help, he goes backward and backward and backward. and his mom, who we said, you know what? pick yourself up by your bootstraps, do the right thing for yourself and your child. she did it. she got him into head start. she went out and found a job. and now because that program is shut down, she likely won't be able to start her job.
he moves backwards. she moves backwards. and it's not because democrats won't negotiate. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i first of all want to thank my colleague from connecticut for his very eloquent remarks and take advantage of his presence here to perhaps engage in a colloquy if he's agreeable to doing so, asking him, because he spoke so wonderfully about that one family, whether he has seen, as i have seen, that story of deprivation and setback duplicated on a bigger scale throughout our state? mr. murphy: i thank my colleague from connecticut for the question. as you know, there are a
thousand different children just in that one head start program alone who have essentially lost access to child care. this week i think the number is, as you know, about 18,000 kids across the country who will lose access to health care. as we've seen, it has already had a big effect in our state because we have so many defense manufacturers. the -- some of the initial furloughs to civilians have caused for a loss of work amongst families that couldn't afford it. we are seeing over and over and over again how this shutdown trickles down. and it's, frankly, affecting the very families who can't afford to miss a paychecks, the very families who can't make quick arrangements to find somebody else to take care of think autistic child. as the senator has seen and knows, this is affecting in our small state thousands and thousands of residents who just
didn't have a lot of wiggle room when it came to the supports that were standing around them due to programs run by the federal governmentment mr. blumenthal: and in fact i think the statistics show that more than a thousand children are directly affected, and their families, by this shutdown in head start alone and seniors in terms of nutritional assistance. i don't know whether my good friend and very distinguished colleague from connecticut has seen that phenomenon as well in bridge export throughout our state of -- bridgeport and throughout our state of connecticut and would care to remark on it. mr. murphy: i would just say this to the senator, we've had this effort on behalf of republicans to sort of pick and choose which parts of the government they are going to reopen. and as i noted here on the floor in objecting to one of these piecemeal requests, that exact program that you refer to, senior nutrition programs, which provide meals to very low-income
and often very frail seniors who are getting them either at a senior senator or delivered to them through the meals on wheels program, was not initially one of the programs that republicans chose to reopen. and so that's why we object to this piecemeal approach, because it's just bad policy to allow for a wing of this house or the other house to pick and choose which people they help, leaving on the outside, as you mentioned, some who are very deserving, like very frail and often very hungry senior citizens. mr. blumenthal: and what's needed, i think my colleague would agree, is really an toned the shutdown -- an end to the shutdown, reopening government not for the sake of reopening the government but to provide these vital services and assurance that the united states of america, greatest nation in the history of the world, is going to continue paying its deltdebts.
and then, and only then, a conference and a compromise and collaboration on what our overall budget should be with smart spending cuts and increases in revenue that close some of the loopholes and subsidies. and i think that was the thrust, was it not, of what my colleague from connecticut had to say? mr. murphy: i think the senator, our majority leader, has been very clear that he's willing to sit down and talk about anything and everything that republicans want to discuss but within the a gun to our heads. let's reopen the government and then, as we have been willing to as a chamber over and over again, let's sit down, you know, in a budget conference with everything that is part of that budget on the table. but, you know, this just can't happen every time that one faction of one house doesn't get their way, they shut down the government until their particular demands are remediated.
as i was saying, you and i, senator blumenthal, care deeply about the issue of background checks. you've worked your entire life on this issue. but given your life's work, you're still not coming to this chamber and demanding until you get your way on that issue -- which is such vital importance to your stitch weants as mine -- that you'll -- constituents as mine -- that you'll shut down the government. mr. blumenthal: in fact, what's happening is that a small faction of one house of the congress, in fact, the house of representatives, one small group of right-wing extremists, whatever they may characterize themselves as, is holding hostage the entire house of representatives, the entire congress, the entire government, even though it's only one branch and one part of a branch. and i think that senator murphy has really explained well our
view and our constituents in connecticut need to know it, that we're willing to compromise and collaborate but not with hostage-taking tactics that, in effect, say to everyone else in the country, it's our way or the highway. and i want to thank my cheeg from connecticut for speaking so clearly and persuasively on this topic, and for giving the impact of this government shutdown a hule face and a human voice. the story that he told from bridgeport has, indeed, thousands of others just like it across the state of connecticut, across the country, who are cuffinsuffering the real hardshd harm of this shutdown. we can talk in the abstract here. our rhetoric may carry a little bit beyond these four walls.
but the real-life consequences belong to them. and both senator murphy and i have seen them in real life. and that's why we're here, to advocate and fight for those people of connecticut, in bridgeport, those families who depend on head start, those seniors who depend on nutritional existence, and tell their story, as he has done so well today in this chamber, and tell the story also about the sikorsky workers, men and women and their families. they do great work for our nation. on their assembly lines, blackhawk helicopters are made -- the best in the nation. they perform rescue operations for our troops in afghanistan. they medevac our nation's
warriors to places where they can be saved. they provide resupply and provisions. they are literally lifesaving vehicles in our war to keep america safe, and those workers incin sikorsky were told late lt week, you're dorntio you are doe furloughed. because employees of the united states department of defense are going to be furloughed, 45 inspectors and 1,500 or 2,000 or more workers at sikorsky on the blackhawk helicopter line and other essential product assembly told they were going to be furloughed. senator murphy and i and other members of our delegation spoke with officials of the department of defense and made clear to
them our interpretation of recently passed law that it would ally to employees of the defense contract management act -- agency whose services were vital to certify and i expect those helicopters, keep open the assembly lines of sikorsky and make sure that blackhawks were continuing to be available to our military men and women who depend on them so vitally. those conversations -- and i'm sure others had them as well -- with officials of the department of defense, along with the action of the house over the weekend to make sure that clearly all our furloughed employees of the united states government will be paid eventually persuaded secretary hagel to do the right thing. and i want to commend secretary hagel and thank hil him for brig
back those employees, like the 45 inspectors who have to be there for the department of defense to take delivery of those helicopters, which in turn is necessary to keep open the assembly line and keep employed and on the job those sikorsky workers and countless of hardworking men and women at defense contractors across the united states. i thank secretary hagel, but, at the same time, we need to recognize that for everic sikorski, for every fortune 500 corporation, for every one of those big defense contract,there are literally thousands of suppliers and small businesses who are continuing in uncertainty -- and sometimes
confusion -- about what is happening here in washington. thousands of other businesses that depend on those suppliers, because they provide the raw materials that the suppliers use to turn into the parts for the sikorski helicopters, the ripple effect, the ramifications pervade our economy and our society. the uncertainty creates harm and hardship that is immeasurable and, perhaps, irreparable. the harm is not only to those workers who rightly had the whiplash of being furloughed one day and being called back another and being your honor certai--and being uncertain as t the impact would be, but the suppliers and the countless other small businesses that cannot plan, cannot look ahead,
cannot hire for the future and sometimes have to tell their workers, you're going to be on furlough. you can't plan to buy a car or a new home or even the most minor things like school supplies or maybe other plans. lives are in the balance. lives are at stake. the real-life consequences are real and perhaps lasting for many americans, not only the family who depends on head start or on senior nutrition assistance or on a job in sikorsky, but the countless others whose lives are also in the balance. and there is a stliewtion this a solution to this impasse.
cooler minds, calmer sense are beginning to reach a consensus that the house should be given a chance to vote, that the speaker of the house of representatives john boehner should enable that vote. very simply, provide an opportunity to republicans and democrats, not singling out one side or another, but enabling them to come together on a bipartisan basis. who cares who's in the minority of that vote, if it reopens the government to provide head start and nutritional assistance and enables some certainty that permits our economy to move forward rationally and sensibly, to recover from the great recession, to grow jobs and enable the economy to reach some measure of prosperity? we all have an interest in that outcome. we all should be pulling for america.
we all should assure that the greatest nation in the history of the world will leave no doubt that it will pay its bills on time, that it will fulfill its obligations on time, just as we have for every year in the history of this great nation. there is a way to come together. i hear from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that the time has come to end this impasse. if we simply let the house vote. mr. president, i thank you, and i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, all over this country the american people are outraged by what's going on here in washington. they have a hard time understanding why right-wing extremists in the republican party in the house are able to shut down the united states government, deny paychecks to millions of federal employees, and at the same time threaten services, in some cases desperately needed services, to tens of millions of americans. people are hurting, and they wonder what's going on. let me just try to say a few words as to my view as to in fact what has happened. for a beginning, when some of my republican colleagues are saying we just need to talk, let's
compromise, a key point they neglect to make is that a major compromise has already taken place. the democratic -- democrats in the senate -- and i'm an independent as you are, affiliated with the democratic caucus -- decided to send a budget for a continuing resolution to the house which, in my view, was a very, very weak budget, one that i am totally dissatisfied with, and i think most members of the caucus are. it continues the budget at sequestration levels, which will have a devastating impact on this country. it is a bad budget. but the reason that the majority leader sent it over to the house was thaefps under the
understanding that the speaker of the house has requested that type of budget and that once that budget came over, that c.r. came over, that the house would agree to it. in fact, let me read from an article in "the washington post" today commenting on an abcent view that speaker boehner did. abc interview that speaker boehner did. "in the abc interview, boehner tacitly acknowledged that, acknowledged making a deal with senate democrats to avoid using the threat of a shutdown to attack obamacare in exchange for an agreement to maintain the deep cuts known as the sequester through the fall. he conceded that his rank and file forced him on to the path to shutdown by insisting on waging the fight over obamacare." end of quote, "washington post"
today. what does that mean? it means that an agreement had been reached by the speaker and the majority leader that if the democrats accepted the very low budget that the republicans wanted, that there would be a clean continuing resolution. and what this article points out and what i think the speaker has virtually acknowledged, that despite his agreement with the majority leader here in the senate, he couldn't carry it out because his extreme right wing said, thanks, you got us the budget we wanted, the c.r. we wanted. that's not enough. now we want to end obamacare. that's where we are today. so anyone who comes forward and says, well, why don't you talk? why don't you compromise? the fact of the matter is -- and i think the majority leader has made this point -- that he kphoeupld -- compromised far
more than any of us felt comfortable with. a kroeupls has been -- a compromise has been reached. the democrats accepted a bad budget but it was done with the hope and understanding that it would be done with a clean continuing resolution and that the united states government would not be shut down. that's point number one. point number two is the speaker the other day on tv said there are not the votes to pass a clean c.r.. well, what i have been hearing here on the floor of the senate and in the house is that you have republicans who are not sympathetic to obamacare. they don't like obamacare. they would like to defund obamacare. but they understand that you don't shut down the united states government and you don't threaten that for the first time in the history of the united states we may not pay our bills,
be a deadbeat nation and drive our economy and our financial system and perhaps the entire world's financial system into a catastrophic area by not paying our bills. and we believe that in fact there are enough republicans in the house to join with democrats and in fact pass a clean c.r.. i think the president has made the point. the majority leader has made the point. have the vote. have the vote, mr. speaker, and maybe you're right, maybe you're not. but we don't know until we have the vote. and i would urge, as i have before, that the speaker of the house function as the speaker of the united states house of representatives and not as the speaker of the republican party. the last point, last point that i want to make touches on an
article that appeared in yesterday's "new york times," and it's a re important article because it really -- and it's a very important article because it really tells us who is behind this shutdown and what their motives are. if anybody thinks this government shutdown or the threats about not paying our bills and driving the world's economy into catastrophic areas thinks that this is an idea that just occurred the other day. that a senator had this bright idea. you would be very, very mistaken. the fact of the matter is that we have a growing right-wing movement in this country funded by some of the wealthiest people in america, including the koch brothers, a family that has made their money in fossil fuels and are worth over dollars 70
billion. $70 billion is their worth. and they are worth $70 billion. they have access to the best health care in the world. they have access to the best housing in the world. their family members can go to the best colleges and universities in the world. but they are obsessed by, among other things, making sure that 20 or 25 million americans have no minimums at all. now, i am a strong supporter of a medicare for all single-payer program. i don't think that the affordable care act went far enough. but to say the least, that when 20 million or 25 million americans can finally have access to health insurance, go to the doctor when they need to go to that doctor, make sure that there are no regulations that prevent them from getting care because of preexisting
conditions, can you imagine, mr. president, billionaires -- billionaires -- going to war against working people so that they and their kids cannot get health insurance? i mean, i think that is just obscene. that is just obscene. let me just quote from "the new york times" of yesterday. and it's important that people understand that the fight against the affordable care act really is just the tip of the iceberg. that you have families and billionaires like the koch brothers who not only want to see that we don't expand health insurance in this country, they have a long list of issues that they're going after. in fact, they want to repeal virtually every major piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years that protect the middle class and working families, women, children, the elderly,
the sick and the poor. that is their agenda. that is their agenda. so it's not a question of opposing the extension of health insurance through obamacare. that's not enough for them. what they want to do is end medicare as we know it right now, transform it into a voucher system, give an elderly person $8,000 who is dealing with cancer and say good luck to you. they want to make massive cuts in medicaid. they don't want to expand medicaid. they are very clear about wanting to end social security. they don't believe the federal government should be involved in retirement issues. and social security. one of the more amazing things of what these guys want to do, and many of our republican colleagues apparently have drank the lemonade on this issue is they want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage.
minimum wage federally is $7.25 an hour. people can't live on that. and their idea is to get the federal government out of the minimum wage issue, no floor so if an employer in a hard-pressed area, in maine, vermont or michigan, can pay $4 an hour, they think that's freedom. we don't want a federal minimum wage. in other words, what these right-wing extremists and the big money behind them, they have a major agenda of which repealing obamacare is just one small part of it. hretd me just quote if i might, and i would ask unanimous consent to submit the entire "new york times" article into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: thank you. let me quote from yesterday's "new york times." the current budget brinkmanship is the latest development in a
well-financed broad-based assault on the health care -- on the health law, mr. obama's signature legislative initiative. groups like americans for prosperity and freedom works are all immersed in the fight, as for club for growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. some like young americans for liberty both saying young adults are upstart. heritage action is new to funding in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the heritage foundation. the billionaire koch brothers, charles and david, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. let me repeat that. the billionaire koch brothers, charles and david, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. remember, these are the guys who are worth $70 billion, who want to essentially repeal every major piece of legislation
protecting working families over the last 80 years. let me go back to the article, a group linked to the kochs, freedom partner's chamber of commerce disbursed more than $230 million last year to knock organizations involved in the fight, et cetera, et cetera. i want to go to another paragraph, and this is really interesting and really important. the groups have also sought to pressure vulnerable republican members of congress with score cards keeping track of their health care votes, have burned faux obama cards on college campuses and distributed phone calls to congressional office, and twitter offerings to follow to represent as their own. what does that mean? as a result of the disastrous supreme court ruling called
citizens united, what billionaires like the koch brothers and others can do, and what they are doing today is saying to republicans in the house of representatives, if you vote for a clean continuing resolution, if you vote to keep the government open, if you make it very clear that you will oppose any effort to see the united states default on its debts, if you do that, let me tell you what's going to happen to you. because we have the koch brothers and people worth billions of dollars who are prepared to jump in to your campaign, perhaps to get a primary opponent against you, and to fund that opponent with as much money as he or she needs. so with democracy now in the house as a result of citizens
united is about is a handful of billionaires can threaten any member of the house with defeat by pouring in unlimited sums of money if they vote in a way that the koch brothers do not like. now, if that's how people think american democracy is supposed to function, it would surprise me very much, but that's not what american democracy is supposed to be about. and, mr. president, that tells me again why we have got to do everything that we can to overturn this disastrous citizens united supreme court decision so that a handful of billionaires cannot dictate public policy here in the united states of america and in the united states congress. let me just conclude, mr. president, by saying this --
the american people are angry and they are frustrateed, and i think what they are seeing is that the middle class of this country is disappearing. in fact, in the last 24 years, median family income today is lower than it was. it's gone down. you have millions of people who are out there working for wages that they -- that they just can't raise a family on. you are seeing right now a growth in poverty among elderly people, and in the midst of the disappearing middle class and in the increase of poverty, you are seeing more income and wealth inequality in this country than we have seen since the 1920's. the gap between the very rich and everybody else grows wider. now as i mentioned a moment ago what these billionaires are doing with their money is continuing their war against the middle class by trying to repeal important pieces of legislation. and what the american people are
saying, what about us, what about us? who is worried that my kid who graduated high school can't find a job. who was worried that my other kid who graduated college is leaving school deeply in debt? who is worried that in our country we are not being aggressive in dealing with the issue of global warming. there are enormous issues facing the middle class in this country, the need to create millions of jobs, the need to raise the minimum wage, the need to make college affordable, the need to significantly improve childcare in this country and education in general. there is an enormous amount of work to be done. what this congress should not be doing is telling two million workers that you're not getting paid, furloughing what was then 800,000, now 400,000 workers.
that's not what we should be doing. so, mr. president, i hope that the american people stand up and make it clear to our republican friends that they cannot shut down the government because they are not getting their way, and i would hope the american people would do everything they can to demand that this congress start doing its job which is to represent working families in this country. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to ten minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i rise today with a pretty simple message for house leadership -- you can end this republican shutdown today. just simply let the house vote on issue after issue after issue when the house has acted, the senate has responded with a vote, either table a vote or vote a motion for or against or vote legislation for or taking a vote, we simply ask the house to do the same thing. by scheduling a vote on the senate-passed plan, a continuing resolution, speaker boehner can ensure that more than 800,000 workers, including tens of thousands in my home state of ohio, can get back to work. by scheduling a vote on the senate-passed bill, he can reopen the government without rehashing old political fights, then get down to business to
deal with the debt limit, then get down to business and make decisions about immigration, make decisions about jobs, make decisions about what we're going to do with the budget. we have never -- i don't think we have ever, mr. speaker, seen one faction of one party of one chamber of one branch of government hold the entire country and economic recovery of our nation hostage. one faction, a faction of one party of one house of one branch of government hold the country hostage. don't take my word for it." the cleveland plain dealer "headline said republicans need to quit the attack on obamacare and agree to a clean continuing resolution. they called the action of the far right attack on the 3-year-old health care law, the health care law that was passed overwhelmingly in both houses, 60 votes in the senate, well over a majority in the house, affirmed in part by the supreme court." the plain dealer "called the
acts attacking the health care law un-american." the blade "called the acts in the house g.o.p. extortion, challenging speaker boehner to put his own economy over his own job, reminding him of election night, saying the 2012 election changes that, making the health law the law of the land. finally, "the washington post," no stranger to criticizing democrats, called out the house of embarrassment and its heedlessness of its impact on the actions of ordinary americans. i was home this weekend, and i spoke with all kinds of people. i spoke with federal employees, some of who have been furloughed, some haven't. i spoke with others in avon lake, ohio, other places, and listened to what they had to say. people are frustrated. they can't believe that, again, one house, one group of radicals in one house of the government -- of one branch of government can for all intents and purposes shut the country down and move us towards the precipice on what happens if the
united states congress does not pay the bills that we as a congress ran up. these are real people facing a real and devastating impact. mr. president, i did something else that i know you, as the -- as a senator from maine, a former governor, do also, get on the phone and just talk to people in your state about the impact that this will have. i spoke to a -- one of the leaders at an institution in ohio that has a large r&d presence in the state. he talked, he talked about the irreparable damage to our infrastructure similar to what happens in senator nelson who just joined me on the floor, senator nelson's state, what can happen at nasa in south florida. what happens at nasa in cleveland. what happens at patel in columbus. what happens at wright-patterson air force base in dayton. he talked about this leader at one of these institutions, i don't want to call him out by
name, talked about the irreparable damage to our infrastructure as a nation. this isn't just highways and bridges. this is scientific researchers, this is engineers, this is people working on some of the most top secret things in our country and our government. and he went on to say it's asymmetric, killing and building a scientific endeavor. think about that. building a scientific -- killing a scientific endeavor you can do in a week, you can do in a month, by stopping the research, by an interruption like this where many of the top scientists, the top engineers at some point just say i don't want to go through this again. i'm not going to continue to do this important work for my country and then see it shut down because somebody has a political ax to grind because somebody on a constitution or one political party as we approach the debt ceiling wants to attach their political platform to one of these important pieces of legislation just to make the government run. what's happening in places like that is some of these engineers
say i'm not sure i want to work for nasa anymore, i'm not sure i want to stay in the military, i'm not sure i want to be in a major research institution like patel. i can go elsewhere where my work won't get interrupted and people will show their appreciation simply by continuing to fund my research. when you think about this, killing and building a scientific endeavor, it's a little bit like one old politician said about it takes a carpenter to build a barn, but any -- i'm not sure he used the word mule, but -- it takes a carpenter a long time to build a barn, but any mule can knock down that barn in a day or so. i remember, i was in a car accident years ago, broke my back, was in the hospital for a week. for three days, i stayed in bed. i remember the first time i tried to walk, how my muscles had atrophied. it took several weeks before i was back to full strength and could rebuild that muscle. that's really the way it is with these -- with these research institutions that our country has so many of that are so important, whether it's --
whether it's nasa, whether it's patel, whether it's wright-pat air force base, whether it's the national institutes of health. we have assembled some of the greatest scientists and engineers and technicians in the world at these institutions, but building a scientific endeavor takes days and weeks moontsd and years. killing one is a matter of an interruption of two or three or four or five weeks. that's why this is so dangerous, this shutdown. that's why going up against the debt ceiling is potentially catastrophic for our country. it makes no sense. it's not good for our economy. it's not good for our people. it's not good to have a federal work force that really can do the right kinds of things for our country. i would be glad to field to the gentleman from florida. mr. nelson: what the senator said about nasa is so true. here 97%, what the senator believe, 97% of the work force
at the national aeronautics and space administration is on furlough? and a few of us had to intercede the mars mission that is supposed to go in a narrow window between mid november and early december. if they miss that window, it would be another two years before they could launch that mars mission and therefore all the expense of keeping the scientists on and so forth. we finally got them to bring them back so they could continue processing the mission so that it can launch in that narrow three-week window. but the rest of the people are gone. does that sound very intelligent to the senator? mr. brown: it's interesting. three of the great nasa facilities are represented on the floor now, senator cornyn from texas and senator nelson
and i. it's not just nasa employees at nasa in cleveland. it's another 1,300 contractors who are doing work, paid by taxpayers, not actual -- they are actually private companies, as you know, the same in florida, the same in texas, and how important their work is, too. i just think that these kinds of interruptions are so senseless. what i heard when i was home from people more than anything is how senseless this is, how ludicrous it is. i spoke to hospital administrators all over my state today. i was on the phone with a number of them. from williams county in the northwest corner to columbus to cleveland to all over. it's senseless to them that they are in the midst of maybe a hospital expansion or maybe just the day-to-day work of the hospital and they don't know what to think. i hear many of my colleagues here for years talk about the unpredictability of this economy and partly because of washington and obamacare and maybe dodd-frank, we don't know what's happening, that's the worst kind
of unpredictability is shutting the government down or leading us right up to the debt ceiling. and that's why, mr. president, it is so important that the house vote and then we get serious about doing the debt ceiling vote and then we move on to issues like immigration and issues that matter for our country. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i agree with our colleagues that the government shutdown is not the best way to do business around here and we should get together, the president, the house, and the senate, and we should work this out, both the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling which secretary of the treasury jack lew has said he will basically run out of all of the extraordinary measures he can use to avoid us reaching the debt ceiling, which colloquially speaking i would say is the equivalent of maxing
out your credit card, the federal government's credit card. but it's worth remembering as james babier, former secretary of the treasury, secretary of state, with the distinguished record of public service doughgoing back many, many years, he recently noted in an article in "the wall street journal" that since 1976 we've had 17 government shutdowns temporarily until differences between the parties, between the branches could be worked out. and i hope, i hope that we can do that sooner rather than later. the truth is, there was a way out with regard to the shutdown, particularly when the house passes a piece of legislation that would maintain the spending limits that $988
billion, which was the same level the senate majority had chosen, but it also attached two other provisions to it. one which would have eliminated the carveout for congress for obamacare -- in other words, the carveout that treats congress differently from the rest of the country and our democratic friends voted uniformly against that provision, all republicans voted to eliminate that carveout. and the second was the delay in the penalties that would be applied to individuals that don't buy government-approved health insurance under obamacare. now, the president has unilaterally delayed for a year the penalties for employers who don't meet the requirements of obamacare, and all we were asking for is give the same consideration to average hardworking americans. if our friends across the aisle or at least enough of them had
joined with us to vote for both of those provisions that came over with the house bill, the government could woop be shut down, it would be operating but that was the decision they made and i think they made a mistake. but we know the government shutdown debate has quickly become a debate over the broader subject of what do we do about spending and debt. and particularly, what do we do with regard to the debt ceiling i mentioned earlier. we've reached almost the top of our credit limit on the nation's credit card, and president obama's asking for another trillion dollars in spending, in debt limit. but the president differs from many of us in that he thinks this debt ceiling cap ought to be lifted by another trillion dollars without anything else attached to it. he thinks it ought to be
automatic. even though we believe it's entirely appropriate and it has the majority of times in the past, the debt ceiling increase has been accompanied by other long-term policy reforms. the president himself has agreed to those kinds of reforms in the past but apparently for some reason this time he's drawn the line in the sand. so now he believes, unlike the past, that congress should act like a rubber stamp when it comes to raising the limit on america's credit card, our debt limit. meanwhile it seems that our friends across the aisle also feel that the house should be a rubber stamp for the senate. all of which leads me to conclude, mr. president, that james madison, the father of our constitution, must be rolling over in his grave because he and others of the
founders were the geniuses who decided it was the checks and balances from separated government, the executive and the legislative, the house and the senate, that would best protect our freedoms and best prevent overreach by other branches. but in a way i can ungdz why the president and -- understand why the president and the majority leader are refusing to negotiate and saying it's my way or the highway. after all, the last time we had these kinds of major fiscal talks in advance of a debt ceiling deadline, the result was the budget control act. that was 2011. a law that produced by default real spending cuts and real deficit reduction. you'll recall, that was where the super committee was created to try to negotiate a grand bargain. the super committee was unsuccessful and the default was
the budget control act and the sequester which automatically cut discretionary spending. now, our friends across the aisle clearly think that was a big mistake, and the president and the majority leader now are refusing to negotiate at all on the debt ceiling, and believe it ought to be rubber stamped. well, amidst all the rhetoric and the finger pointing, and now washington has erupted into something it does best, which is the blame game, i'm afraid that we've lost sight of our underlying debt problem. despite the short-term deficit reduction we've witnessed since 2011, due to the default position of the budget control act, our long-term fiscal trajectory remains unsustainable. last month, the congressional budget office projected that publicly held federal debt is on
course to exceed the size of our entire economy. by that point, again, under current law the interest that we have to pay to china and other foreign creditors that hold more than half of our debt will be two and a half times greater than the 40-year average. we know now that interest rates are extraordinarily and abnormally low because of the policies of the federal reserve. but can you imagine that for that $17 trillion in debt that the u.s. government would have to pay historic averages on -- of interest to our creditors in order to get them to buy our debt, what impact that would have? well, i'll talk about that more in a moment. but if we continue down this road, without adopting real reforms for our long-term fiscal challenges, then we are condemning our children and our grandchildren to less jobs,
slower economic growth, worse opportunity, and much greater risk of a full-blown fiscal crisis. in the event of a crisis, our safety net programs that we all care about for the most vulnerable in our country, those would be cut harshly and abruptly, as would our ability to fund national security and other priorities. now, nobody wants that kind of future, and nobody has to accept that kind of future if we would just do our job. not the president trying to go it alone again, not the senate saying it's my way or the highway to the house but by the house and the senate and the white house working together to try to work our way through it. but if we continue to rack up debt, another trillion dollars is what the president wants to raise the debt limit, and if we continue to postpone the hard
choices and leave it to others, we're moving closer and closer to an eventually disaster. -- eventual disaster. by contrast, if we were to take the responsibility now to reform our safety net programs, we can reform them gradually so that we'll would barely feel it. that would make it much easier to protect the americans who need these programs the most, our seniors and as i said, the most vulnerable in our society. of course, we can't make any real progress as long as the president and the majority leader in the senate refuse to negotiate. as i said earlier, congress is not a rubber stamp. that's not a constitution written by our founders. and the house of representatives is not a rubber stamp for the senate. now, we've been willing to compromise and negotiate.
as a matter of fact, the house has sent over multiple bills. every time a member of the opposing party comes to the floor and talks about n.i.h., the national institutes of health funding being cut off for children's cancer research, we've come down here and said, well, let's pass that bill, let's pass that appropriation. when someone has said what about the veterans' disability claims that are stacking up and not being processed as a result of the shutdown, the house has passed legislation, we've come to the floor and offered that legislation which would allow us to address that problem. but we've been told no time and time again. mr. president, i'd ask for a remaining four additional minutes by unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: so we need to work together. that's the only way this is going to happen. and we know it will happen. it's going to happen. the president cannot take the
unsustainable position that it's my way or the highway and i won't negotiate. especially since he's done it before, and especially since that's the only way our constitutional framework allows resolution of problems. if we were to do -- which we're not going to do -- what the president and the majority leader have asked us to do which is to raise the debt limit automatically without dealing with any of our long-term fiscal problems, we will simply be encouraging congress and other policymakers to delay tough choices and hard votes. we'll be encouraging, indeed, we'll be enabling the type of fiscal profligacy which has left us with a gross national debt of $17 trillion. about $53,000 for every man, woman, and child in america. now, more than $6 trillion of debt has been added since
president obama became president of the united states. and yet the president seems to show absolutely no sense of urgency in dealing with it. that's despite his own fiscal commission, the simpson-bowles commission coming back in december of 2010, this is a bipartisan commission he himself appointed and they came back with their own policy prescription to deal with this problem. republicans, some of our most conservative members on the senate side, some of the most liberal members on the other side of the aisle came together and they voted for the simpson-bowles commission report in december, 2010 but the president simply walked away from it. back in march he told abc news, he said we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. in fact, for the next ten years, it's going to be in a sustainable place. that's what the president of the united states said last march. but that's not what his own
bipartisan fiscal commission said in december, 2010. and that's not what the congressional budget office says. as everybody around here knows, the congressional budget office is the final authority on these matters. in their 2013 long-term budget outlook on page 13, they have a couple of pages here that i'd ask unanimous consent, mr. president, be made part of the record following my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: it's entitled "consequences of large and growing federal debt." they didn't say we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. and we're pretty much in a sustainable place for ten years. they said -- quote -- "the high and rising amounts of federal debt held by the public that c.b.o. projects for the coming decades under extended baseline would have significant negative
consequences for both the economy and the federal budget. what were those? less national savings and future income, pressure for larger tax increases and spending cuts to deal with this, and particularly the phenomenon of high interest payments i mentioned a moment ago. again because the federal reserve's policies, it costs next to nothing for the federal government in terms of interest on our national debt. but when that goes back up to their historic averages, 4% or 5%, it's going to cost trillions of dollars more for us to service the existing debt. not to mention the additional trillion dollars that the president wants to borrow. what's that going to do? that's going to crowd out other priorities, things like nasa as my colleague from florida and i both think is an important national priority and i heard the senator from ohio say the same thing but higher interest
payments as a result of not dealing with this high debt is going to crowd out other important national priorities. and finally, the congressional budget office said there's a greater chance of a fiscal crisis, specifically what they're talking about is as we pay more and more for interest on our national debt, we lose more and more control over our fiscal future. and as we all know on a bipartisan basis, we've been told time and time again by the experts that this -- when the public lose confidence, or i should say when our creditors lose confidence in our ability to repay our debt, there can become a breaking moment when all a sudden we lose control and all of these things happen which we can avoid if we deal responsibly today. so, mr. president, in other words, the president seems to content to let one of his successors deal with the problem of our rising national debt and that's only, i would add, if we