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Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I take this time because we are now only literally hours away from a potential shutdown of government. I must tell you that my constituents are angry about this, and I join them in saying this should never happen. There is no reason why we should have a government shutdown.
We know the financial issues, and there have been good-faith negotiations. It is my understanding we have pretty much resolved the financial issues. And, remember, we are dealing with 12 percent of the Federal budget. We need to get to the 2012 budget and get a credible plan to deal with the deficit. We all understand that. We are talking about the 2011 budget--the budget that started on October 1 of last year and will end on September 30 of this year. We are over halfway through that budget year.
There are differences between where the Democrats were and where the Republicans were. Everyone understood it couldn't be what the Republicans wanted or the Democrats wanted; that we needed to have good-faith negotiations. Those negotiations have taken place, and it is my understanding we have pretty much agreed on the dollar amounts and we are prepared to move forward.
But let me talk a little about what will happen at midnight tomorrow night. I have the honor of representing the people of the State of Maryland. There are almost 150,000 active civilian--civilian--Federal employees who live in the State of Maryland. I happened to bump into one of those Federal employees today who asked me a question. She asked me: What am I supposed to do if we have a government shutdown and I don't get a paycheck? I don't have any savings. How am I going to pay for my mortgage?
We already have too many people whose mortgages are in jeopardy because of the weakness of our economy, and now 150,000 Marylanders are in jeopardy of losing their paycheck as a result of the inability to resolve this year's budget.
I also happened to talk to people who run our Metro system here, and they told me if we have a government shutdown it will mean $1 million less in the fare box, possibly every day, because of the number of people who won't be taking the Metro because they are not going to be going to work. A lot of Federal workers are not going to be going to work.
Guess what. They are not going to stop at the coffee shop to buy coffee or buy that lunch. They won't be patronizing the shops. It is going to hurt the small business owners who depend upon that business; depend upon the people who use their paychecks to do their cleaning or go to the different shops.
It is going to hurt our economy. It is going to hurt innocent small business owners, just at a time that our economy is starting to recover.
I will give another example. A person contacted me today, one of my constituents in Maryland who happens to have an issue concerning the need for a passport to be issued. It needs to be issued rather quickly. We are going to try to accommodate that person to get it done by tomorrow. But suppose that call would have come in next week after there is a government shutdown and that person has travel plans that now may be disrupted because we cannot issue that passport. The list goes on and on of people who are going to be hurt as a result of a government shutdown.
We know a government shutdown will actually cost the taxpayers more money. A shutdown costs taxpayers money, More money than the differences in our negotiations in the last couple of days will be lost. So don't tell the taxpayers of this country that we are having a government shutdown to save money. It will not save taxpayer money, it will cost them additional moneys. It will jeopardize our recovery, and individual people will get hurt as a result of the government shutdown.
What is the issue? We have already said the money issues--this is a budget debate--have been pretty well resolved. It is not the dollars. It is not the differences you heard--and the differences, frankly, were quite small compared to the size of our budget deficit and the gap between spending and revenues. The issue that is now being raised by the Republicans has nothing to do with dollars. It has to do with their social policies. It has to do with family planning. It has to do with the Environmental Protection Agency being able to enforce our environmental laws, the Clean Air Act. Does that sound familiar? It should because we debated those issues on the floor of the Senate yesterday, and we took votes on these environmental issues yesterday on the floor of the Senate, as we should do, debating these issues on their own individual merits.
It should not be included in the budget resolution for the remainder of this year. That is not the appropriate place for it. We are not here to debate the social agenda. Those issues should be done on the bills, the substantive bills that come forward.
You sort of get a little suspicious as these issues are being raised as to whether, in fact, those who are negotiating on the Republican side are sincere in trying to reach an agreement to prevent a government shutdown or whether they continuously move the goalposts and change the rules in order to bring about a government shutdown.
I must tell you, I was disappointed, as I heard Republican after Republican in the last couple of weeks talk about a shutdown might be good for the country; if we have a shutdown, so be it. Let's do it. Even some Republicans calling for a shutdown.
I understand there is a problem the Speaker of the House has in dealing with the members of the Republican caucus who belong to the tea party, and they are insisting he not compromise; they don't want to see any compromise. I understand that, but those Members do not control the process. We have a majority of the Members of the House and a majority of the Members of the Senate who are prepared to move forward with this compromise that will not only keep government functioning but will allow us to get on to the real issues of dealing with the deficit of this country by looking at the 2012 budget. There we will be considering more than just the discretionary domestic spending cuts, we also can take a look at the other programs, including military and mandatory spending and revenues, and get a credible plan to deal with the deficit.
We have enough votes among the Democrats and Republicans to pass this compromise. We do not have to yield to the extremists on the Republican side in the House who do not want to see any compromise whatsoever, but what worries me is that perhaps the design is to close the government; that is what the Republicans want. I know Speaker Boehner got a standing ovation when he informed his caucus to begin preparing for a possible shutdown.
These are serious issues--like that Marylander I talked to today who may, in fact, lose her home if there is a government shutdown or that constituent who had planned a trip and found out that because their passport will expire shortly, they need to get it renewed before they are permitted to enter a foreign country and will need to get that passport tended to or lose the opportunity to travel, perhaps, for a family event or perhaps for business or the taxpayers of this country who are scratching their heads saying: What are you doing adding to the cost of government when I thought this was a debate about reducing the cost of government.
It is not about the dollars. If we have a shutdown of government--and I really hope we do not have a shutdown of government, but if we have a shutdown of government, it is not the dollar difference, it is the social agenda that the Republicans are trying to push through this document, that should not even be on this document, that they are now using as a reason to deny a compromise. It is the extreme elements within the Republican caucus who are saying let's have this government shutdown who will be getting their way.
There is still time remaining. I hope common sense will prevail. I hope people understand how serious a government shutdown is to our country, to our image internationally, to our ability to conduct business internationally, as well as our ability to provide the services to the people of this Nation who expect those services. We still have time. This is a democracy. Let the majority rule. I think we have the majority of Democrats and Republicans alike who want to bring this issue to conclusion, who know that we have a good compromise done right now that compromises the differences between what the Democrats would want and what the Republicans would want. That is how the process should work.
Yes, I am here--representing the people of Maryland, including a large number who work for the Federal Government and a large number who depend upon those who work for the Federal Government and a large number who depend upon the services of the Federal Government--to say let's get this done, not yield to the few on the Republican side in the House. Let's get this job done for the people of Maryland and for the people of this Nation.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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