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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today I will vote in favor of the continuing resolution to keep our government and all its essential services open and operating for the next 3 weeks. I am supporting another short-term extension for the last time. I am only supporting this legislation today because I have been guaranteed by the leadership on both sides of the aisle that this will be the last time we will be forced into adopting a short-term fix to our budget problems and because the only other option would be to shut down the operations of the government.
I believe a government shutdown is in no ones interests but I remain deeply disappointed in the political process that has put us in this untenable position. A 3-week extension that merely defers tough decisions on funding for the fiscal year that started almost 6 months ago is hardly progress. The American people deserve better than a stalled process which delays important decisions of how we can reduce our Federal budget deficit while maintaining our important investments in infrastructure, research, education, technology, and clean energy which will result in new jobs and will bolster our long-term competitiveness.
The American people deserve a serious dialogue within the Congress about our fiscal situation, discretionary spending, entitlements, and revenues. We need to work towards a long-term solution to reduce both our current budget deficit and our staggering debt. We will need to reduce federal spending and make appropriate changes to our entitlement programs to meet the fiscal challenges facing our country. To do this appropriately, everything--revenue, tax reform, spending and entitlements--needs to be on the table.
The question now is what are the tough decisions we are going to make today? What are the issues we are going to wrestle with together at a moment of enormous challenge? This process cannot be done in 3 weeks, but it should have already begun--and it needs to begin today. The American people deserve no less.
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