Continuing Appropriations

Floor Speech

By:  Lisa Murkowski
Date: Sept. 30, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. MURKOWSKI. Madam President, I wish to follow the comments from the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. This has been a tough week. It has been a tough weekend. It has been a tough day. I think as Members of the Senate, as we approach the showdown of a potential shutdown, it is important for us to recognize what is at stake. This is not just me staying here holding the floor late on a Monday evening. I have neighbors here in Washington, DC, who work for the Federal Government. One works for Homeland Security. One works for the Department of Defense. They asked me over the weekend: Am I working on Tuesday? What is happening on Tuesday? Are we shutting the government down?

When we talk about those who are uncertain about what happens this next week with their jobs, I think it is important to recognize it is not just jobs we are talking about; it is the reality that if I am not at work is the childcare facility my kids go to going to be open? What does that mean to me?

If I am the local sandwich shop owner around the corner from where the Fish and Wildlife Service building is and most of the folks who work for Fish and Wildlife are not working next week, what does that mean to me? How many loaves of bread do I make over this next week? I think we need to appreciate and understand, when we are talking about a government shutdown, it does not just mean those who receive a check from the Federal Government. The ripple effect from what we do has consequences.

As we debate, as we ping-pong back and forth between this body and our colleagues on the House side, I think we need to recognize that there are real lives, real families who are lying awake tonight wondering what the rest of the week is going to mean to them. This is a difficult time for us. There are stakes that are very high.

I have not hidden the fact that I am not a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. I have voted against it every time we have had the opportunity to do so. But do I believe we should shut down the Federal Government at this point because we have not been able to shut down the Affordable Care Act? I think we have a responsibility here. We have a responsibility to govern. We are not doing that right now.

Folks back home are talking about a lot of things, talking about the fact that they had a tough fish season in certain parts of the State, talking about the fact that winter is coming on, and our energy costs are still as high as they ever have been. They are worried about what is coming forward for them and their families. What they do not need is to see that their government cannot operate.

So as we deal with these very weighty decisions at this very late hour, we need to remember whom we represent, what we are doing here. It is not just about the next election; it is about making sure those people whom we work for are not stressing and are not anxious about what tomorrow is going to bring for them.

So I am hopeful in the less than 2 hours we have, we will be able to figure out how we keep the government running, how we keep the wheels on the bus, and how we get back together.

I yield the floor.

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