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Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, this past weekend I was with a group of heroes from the ``greatest generation.'' These men and women faced some of the biggest challenges our Nation has seen. They put aside their own needs to make the country and the world a better place.
These World War II veterans from Arkansas were flown in on an Honor Flight to see their memorial. They didn't have much to say to me personally about the shutdown. We talked about it, but talked more about the branch of the service they were in, what they did during the war, and the various things that happened to them during that period--and, of course, about Razorback football. We didn't have to spend and take time to visit a great deal about the shutdown for me to know their thoughts. Their presence alone was enough of a reminder that we need to solve this issue.
As the shutdown drags on, it spills into the debt ceiling discussion. These are two major issues with very serious impacts if left unresolved.
To everyone outside of the Beltway, it seems both sides are digging their heels in deeper, both sides are ratcheting up the rhetoric, and nothing is getting done. The American people are tired of this. Dismissing the other side's offers without consideration and trading barbs do not help out one bit. No one is being asked to abandon their principles. What needs to happen, however, is both sides must respect the will of the American people.
We must find a way to do what the public demands--reopen the government and get our spending under control. The President and the Senate majority want to say that their health care law is an entirely separate issue from this debate. That is simply untrue. It is not the way Americans see it. One major reason the American people are rejecting it is because of its budget-busting pricetag. We have a budget that can't be strained any further. Our debt stands at almost $17 trillion, and $6 trillion of that has been added on President Obama's watch. You can't take on that much debt and pretend it is not a problem. Americans do not have the luxury of telling their credit card company to stop calling because they do not want to pay the debt that they racked up.
This mess could be avoided if we simply followed regular order here in Washington, but we have not done that in 10 years. What I mean by that is during my time in the Senate we have passed one individual appropriations bill prior to the end of the previous fiscal year. We didn't consider a single appropriations bill on the Senate floor last year. Let's return to regular order by passing an annual budget and the accompanying spending bills, not one large bill.
The good news is that many Members on both sides believe we simply need to get that done. But that doesn't get us out of our current mess. We have to get the government operating again, and we have to avoid a default.
Impassioned debates on major decisions like raising the debt ceiling in the past have resulted in positive policy changes. In fact, half of the 53 times Congress has agreed to raise the debt ceiling since 1978, they have attached conditions to it. The Gramm-Rudman act is a perfect example. We talked a lot about the need to cap spending in Washington. Gramm-Rudman actually did that, and it lead to a balanced budget. Even the situation we are currently in with the Budget Control Act was born out of this type of constraint. Some in the Chamber still are not happy with that, but the Budget Control Act is the first time in a long time that we have managed to curb the growth in Washington spending.
Anyone who has ever bought a house or a car can tell you that it takes some time to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. There is lots of haggling involved. The owner says here is what it costs. The consumer makes an offer in return. This brings a counteroffer and so on. This continues until both parties reach an agreement where everyone is satisfied.
But the key to this process is that both parties have to engage in the discussion. Everybody needs to come to the table. It is simply not enough to say this is where I stand and I will not take any other options into consideration. I am fairly certain you will never buy a house with that approach.
The good news is it seems we are heading in a positive direction. I believe there is movement toward a consensus. At the very least, both sides seem to be coming out of their respective corners and discussing their options. We need everyone to come to the table, to develop a way forward that puts us on the path to fiscal responsibility. These discussions serve as a starting point for how to rein in reckless spending so we can eliminate the blank check, the philosophy that has become so pervasive in this town.
If we need inspiration to solve this problem, the men and the women I visited with at the World War II Memorial this past weekend are a perfect place to look. They have accurately been named the ``greatest generation'' in part for their willingness to take on enormous challenges because it was the right thing to do.
We have an enormous challenge in front of us now. Let's follow the inspiration of the ``greatest generation.'' Let's put our country before ourselves and solve this problem.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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