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Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, first of all this morning I would like to thank Chairwoman Mikulski for her willingness to work together in good faith and to introduce the bill that keeps the government running for the rest of the fiscal year. The chair and I have had what I would characterize as a long and productive working relationship. I think this bill is a very clear signal that we intend to continue that relationship for the good of the legislative process and the American people.
I believe Congress must learn to deal with the spending constraints that have become a necessary reality for all of us. Much more work remains to be done to secure our fiscal future, including fixing entitlement programs and reforming our Tax Code. However, today we have taken the first step to show the American people Congress can come together on important issues. My hope is we will continue to do so.
I am pleased to say Chairwoman Mikulski and I have accomplished three shared goals in this proposed legislation. First, this bill will prevent a government shutdown. Nobody in America wants that. Moving from one continuing resolution to the next only delays our problems and creates added uncertainty. I hope we can return to the regular order of producing budgets and appropriations bills to avoid the threat of a shutdown in the future.
Second, this bill will provide more flexibility for the remainder of the year so that government agencies can deal with the reality of the sequester which remains fully in place here.
Third, I believe this bill is a product both parties in both Houses can support. It prioritizes spending and aims to steer clear of divisive issues.
In addition, discretionary spending is subject to the caps put in place by the Budget Control Act, and this bill complies with those levels. As noted, spending cuts made by the sequester will come on top of these constraints.
I support moving forward with this bill, and encourage my colleagues to join together to do the same. Many Americans have lost faith that Republicans and Democrats can work together on anything. I believe this bill demonstrates it is possible, and I hope it will pave the way for a more productive relationship in the future. And while we are sure to disagree on many issues, I remain positive we can restore regular order in the Congress and deal with pressing fiscal matters in a timely bipartisan manner.
I think I speak for both of us when I say we are committed--yes, we are committed--to putting the budget and appropriations process back on track. We look forward to working with our colleagues who share that goal and are willing to join us in this effort. This is a new beginning.
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