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Public Statements

Government Shutdown

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you so very much. I wanted to make sure it wasn't 5 minutes.

Let me thank the gentleman again from California. I want to thank him overall for a litany of causes and legislative efforts that I've joined him on--Make It In America and a number of others. I am so glad that he has come to the floor today to be able to recount for the American people just what we have gone through.

I want to start where he started because I've heard a number of my colleagues who are here on the floor--Congressman Honda, Congresswoman Kaptur--speak eloquently about their work on the Appropriations Committee and of the wall--the mountain--that they had to climb with a compromise that many Democrats voted for and that the President signed, which was the sequestration that was created to avoid a shutdown some years ago. The numbers were so odious that it was thought that we would bring the Republicans to the table in a consensus group. I'd hoped the American people would recognize that they would be surprised to find out that those odious numbers were not even enough, that it didn't bring them to the table. In fact, what it did is cause them to hunker down--to want more cuts, more damage to the American people--which is where we find ourselves today.

Without the shutdown that we are in now, that sequestration, itself, which is what Democrats were trying to work toward to avoid this deepening impact, was going to lose a million jobs, but we could not seemingly bridge that gap of understanding with House Republicans and, particularly, with the right-wing component. Over the weekend, by the way, one Minnesota Member of Congress and former Presidential candidate indicated that she was smiling. They got just what they wanted.

So, if the gentleman would continue to yield, I am glad to be able to say these points just for a moment.

That was a moment of compromise--that was a moment of holding one's nose--because we were doing it for the good of the whole. It was for the greater good, for the good of the whole.

We come now to another moment of crisis. Someone asked me: What is the plan? The answer is right before us, and that is a clean CR.

Let me explain.

It is not a clean CR to take us into 2014 and 2015. My friends, it is only until November 15 so we can have cooler heads, and we can reconcile with Senate Majority Leader Reid--who was offered this compromise, this peace offering--and with the President and sit down even before Thanksgiving and get a budget for all of the running of the government and an appropriations process to allow that to happen.

Now let me quickly go to the three bills that we had and just say these things.

National parks. I want to say directly to the Bellaire teacher--and her name is Ann Linsley-Kennedy--that we are going to work as hard as we can to get those parks open, and I will tell you the answer. The answer is for the Republican House to vote on a clean CR, and you will be able to go to the park with the Bellaire students.

I am going to be calling you tonight, Ms. Linsley-Kennedy, to let you know how hard Democrats are working to encourage our Republicans to just vote on that clean CR, and your youngsters will be able to be headed to Yellowstone on October 4.

The other point is that I want to tell Patrick Smith, a disabled veteran who called my office: thank you for your service. The reason I voted down and joined my colleagues against this piecemeal veterans' bill, Patrick, is that the numbers were so insulting to your willingness to pay the ultimate on the battlefield. It was $6 billion less. It wasn't going to help reduce the claims or get your benefits. Those benefits are going to be running now for a couple of weeks, but I will tell you, Patrick, on the floor of the House: I promise you that we will not have this ridiculous treatment of our veterans, but we are going to do something that is meaningful, not what was done on the floor of the House today.

Finally, let me say to my colleague Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton--again, using the plight of the people of the District of Columbia--that you are deserving of the respect of using your own $8 billion, and the Republicans know full well that all they have to do is to vote for a clean CR to be able to ensure that this independent area--the Capital of the United States, whose Member does not have a vote--is able to do this.

Congressman, today is October 1. Again, I want to wish my brother, Michael Jackson, a birthday wish.

I hope you had a great day, but you had an historic day. October 1 is ``get covered.'' That means that, with all of the noise about ObamaCare--about the bill--it is the law.

I want to announce on the floor today that we are told that millions of people have gotten on this Web site--hear my words: HealthCare.gov--2 million or so in New York, California and all throughout the Nation. When I went to my office in the early morning hours of last evening or what was yesterday--at 1 or 2 in the morning--we turned on HealthCare.gov, and I want you to know that the system said it was overwhelmed, not because of inadequacy but because people were pressing to be able to have good health care. They needed it. These are people with issues and preexisting conditions--people who are suffering from sickle cell and people with diabetes and others. They were saying, thank God. There is one less spina bifida. One woman was 18 years old, and her family was told, You are off of the insurance. God knows she is going to be able to be covered.

So I want to thank you for doing that.

I am closing on a number of 3,000. These are 3,000 children in Houston who are on the waiting list for Head Start because of sequester and the government shutdown. I end on that note because we have talked about the disabled and disease, and we have talked about the District of Columbia and about going to a park, but who cares about the children--3,000? How many are across the Nation who can't get Head Start or who can't get food stamps because this body decided to vote $40 billion out?

I look forward to continuing this discussion, but more importantly, I want to thank you for recognizing that the way to the golden arch is through decency and compromise and sensible reconciliation. Vote on a clean CR, and we will get to the next step, which is to work to make sure this government stays open and that the American people are our first priority.

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