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Public Statements

The Sequester

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. MIKULSKI. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Virginia for his comments. He and Senator Warner are on the other side of the Potomac, and sometimes we are friends, sometimes we are rivals. But it is such a dynamic State. The junior Senator from Virginia knows his State has some of the greatest Federal assets there--the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency. It is a home of vibrant technology. That is why we sometimes come as rivals.

But I want to ask a question of the Senator from Virginia, if the Senator will yield?

Mr. KAINE. I yield.

Ms. MIKULSKI. When we are moving the continuing resolution and he talks about being in the cafeteria and going table to table, which is something I do myself, and I know he enjoys it,--is it his point that we protect the men and women in uniform but the civilian employees, many of whom are veterans, would be at risk?

Mr. KAINE. Absolutely. I am just coming from an armed services hearing, I say to Senator Mikulski, where we were talking about that very same thing. The armed services mission, of course, requires that we protect the men and women in uniform. But so many of the DOD civilians are absolutely critical in doing their appropriate jobs. Sixty percent of the staff, for example, our strategic men, STRATCOM, are civilian employees. They are doing some of the most important work that we need done in the country right now around cyber security. The nurses who care for the wounded warriors I visited at Fort Belvoir Hospital, for example, are DOD civilians. So the furloughs that affect, more broadly, the civilian employees should be reason for significant concern.

Again, we are taking a positive step toward addressing some of these issues by embracing the appropriations approach that the Senator has worked on, and we will have an additional ability to take a positive step with respect to the fiscal year 2014 budget.

Ms. MIKULSKI. So just to prove our policy goal here, we cannot have government funding expire. The consequences of a government shutdown would be horrendous. What would it be on the Virginia economy?

Mr. KAINE. I say to the Senator, it is impossible----

Ms. MIKULSKI. Speaking from the old days as a Governor.

Mr. KAINE. It is like the old commercial about the price of various things but some things are priceless. There is no way to estimate it. Just off the top of my head, there have been analyses of the degree to which the Federal budget impacts the economy in each State, and the most recent, done by Bloomberg about 16 months ago, had Virginia as the State most affected by the Federal budget. So the prospect of more brinkmanship around shutdown, which has happened in the past, even if it does not occur, creates great anxiety. But if it were to occur, whether it is the nurses caring for our wounded warriors, whether it is the researchers helping us to figure out how to stay ahead of the cyber attacks that are frankly happening to our Nation every day, or whether it is the shipyard repairers at Newport News Shipyard who manufacture the largest in manufactured items in the world, nuclear aircraft carriers, which should be a story of American pride, who would find their jobs at risk--a shutdown and even the negative consequences of playing out of last year's CR, which is backward-looking rather than forward-looking, are significant. And that is why turning and facing forward is the approach we should take.

Ms. MIKULSKI. I thank the Senator for his insightful and cogent comments. He is a great fighter from Virginia. I look forward to working with the Senator from Virginia--just as I have worked with Senator Shelby--where there is no brinkmanship, no ultimatums. We just want to get the job done. We need to do our job so other people get to do their job so America keeps rolling.

I yield the floor.

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