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Public Statements

Government Shutdown

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, it is now day 8 of House Republicans' reckless, irresponsible government shutdown. In that time, America has been demanding to hear one reasonable, responsible proposal from House Republicans about how they plan to reopen the U.S. Government.

While House Republicans refuse to capitulate, New Mexicans are still hurting. They're hurting because one radical faction of one party in the House stands in the way, holding the entire Congress and the entire country hostage.

First, this band of radicals forced a government shutdown just to get its way. They have caused significant economic harm and are wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every day. These are the same Republicans who promised fiscal responsibility.

Now they're dangerously close to forcing an economic shutdown by threatening a catastrophic debt default if they don't get what they want. The problem? They don't even know what they want. As my Republican colleague from Indiana said last week:

We have to get something out of this, and I don't know what that even is.

As Speaker Boehner admitted the other day, he committed to Senate leadership that he would support the very same bill--a clean continuing resolution--for which he now refuses a vote on the floor.

On Sunday, I was back in Albuquerque, meeting with Federal employees who have been furloughed. I heard heartbreaking stories of families who say that because of the shutdown, they're worried about paying their mortgages and utility payments and car loans and credit card bills. That's what they're concerned about. That's what keeps them up at night.

I heard from a civilian air traffic controller at Kirtland Air Force Base who was worried about the safety of the airmen because he's not allowed to work. Federal employees are demoralized and feel abandoned. They don't understand why they are being blamed for House Republicans' failure to pass a clean funding compromise.

But in a 2 1/2 -hour meeting, not one of the furloughed New Mexicans told me he wants to see the Affordable Care Act repealed. Not one. I think that shows how far removed from reality House Republicans are. They're willing to continue harming hardworking, innocent Americans because of their obsession with destroying the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Speaker, this is reckless behavior.

As this shutdown carries on into week 2, we keep learning of more negative impacts. Sandia National Labs, one of the largest employers in my district, has started notifying its more than 10,000 employees that they are likely to experience furloughs if the government doesn't reopen soon. That will have an absolutely devastating ripple effect on our local economy that we may never recover from.

Instead of voting to end the shutdown, House Republicans have wasted time with false and misleading attempts to reopen the government bit by bit. After all, they didn't shut down the government piece by piece, so we shouldn't open it that way either.

The one bill that House Republican leadership should be bringing to the House floor today is the Senate-passed, clean funding compromise, which would go directly to the President and immediately open up the entire government for all New Mexicans and Americans.

We know that there are enough votes right now to pass a clean funding compromise. So why won't the Republican leadership allow a vote on it?

I understand that some of my Republican colleagues say part of the reason they got elected was because they pledged to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. We were all sent here to represent our constituents. I know that.

I'm here to represent constituents who are being hammered by the sequester. I've said many times in this Chamber that we need to immediately replace the sequester with a balanced approach to deficit reduction, but I'm not prepared to keep the government shut down because of it, inflicting further harm on people, not only in my district, but around the country.

In spite of the damaging effect the sequestration continues to have on my State, I am prepared to vote right now for a temporary compromise bill that funds the government at sequester levels. I am prepared to vote for it as is virtually every Democrat in the House. The Senate has already passed it. The President says he'll sign it immediately.

We want to get rid of the sequester, but we're willing to vote for a compromised funding bill at sequester levels, and I'll tell you why--because, at this time, it's a reasonable path forward.

So to my Republican friends who don't like the Affordable Care Act, here's a proposal for you: let's reopen the government now with a clean funding bill. Let's put all the furloughed Federal employees back to work. Then we can work together to determine what parts of the Affordable Care Act work well and which parts need to be addressed. After a reasonable amount of time, we can make the necessary adjustments to the law.

That's how you effectively represent your constituents who still have serious concerns about the Affordable Care Act. That's a reasonable path forward.

Mr. Speaker, let's reopen government right now. Then let's work together on a long-term solution that addresses the serious and significant fiscal issues facing our Nation today.


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