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Public Statements

Budget Negotiations

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I associate myself with my colleague from Utah. I appreciate the clarity of his remarks. I wish to add to them.

I am glad we have some folks here today listening in. There is probably no other place in the country we can hear so much nonsense as we will hear on the Senate floor today. Unfortunately, we just heard that from the colleague before my colleague from Utah.

The House just passed another resolution to fund the government, fund the military for the rest of the year, pretty much at a figure we have all agreed on. It includes funding for 1 week to keep other aspects of the government open, and it makes some very modest cuts to our budget. Most of these have been agreed to in advance. But there seems to be one sticking point. This bill would prohibit using taxpayer money to fund abortions in DC.

My colleague who spoke a minute ago said this is an invasion of reproductive rights. I am here to tell colleagues that no one has a reproductive right to use somebody else's money for an abortion. That is all this is about. Not only taxpayers' money, but we are borrowing money to do something at a time when the country is nearly broke that Americans disagree on, and it violates the conscience of many Americans.

But my colleagues on the other side have decided to make this the crucial issue. Either Republicans agree to use taxpayer money for abortions or they are going to shut down the government. And they say we are emphasizing social issues. This is not just a social issue. It is an American issue. Even people who support abortion support the idea that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for it. It is a small request. The cuts are small. But it is clear, as the Senator from Utah just said, this shutdown has been planned by the President and the Democratic majority for a long time, believing they can win the PR battle, thinking that Americans are too stupid to figure it out. I am confident, as we go into this, that Americans are much smarter than my Democratic colleagues. I think they are going to figure out how irresponsible the President has been, how much lack of leadership there has been in the Senate, trying to blame Speaker Boehner in the House who controls one-half of one branch of government for a shutdown, when last year, when the President controlled the whole government, we didn't pass a budget. We didn't fund any aspect of government. This landed in the lap of a new Congress which still includes a Democratic majority here in the Senate.

There has not been one bill from the Senate that the Democrats agree on. The President has not sent down one funding request we could vote for. We don't have a bill proposed by Senator Harry Reid today that we can vote for to keep the government open. Yet he is saying what the Republicans on the House side are sending over is not good enough.

The House just passed another bill. Fifteen Democrats voted for it. If we had 15 Democrats in the Senate who were reasonable, we wouldn't have to deal with this ridiculous, irresponsible government shutdown. I don't know what else Republicans in the House could do. They sent over, over 40 days ago, a bill that would have funded the government through the rest of the year with very nominal cuts. It was

set up to fail in the Senate. We have yet to have hardly any debate on the issue. During all this time we have spent less than 3 hours of debate on the most important issue in the country. We spent the last couple of weeks on a small business bill. I bet no American could tell us what we are even talking about. Before that we spent a couple of weeks on a patent bill--anything we could do to avoid the responsibility of debating the most pressing issue in this country.

I also have to take issue with what the Democrats are trying to do with the tea party. I remind them that many tea party members are Democrats. They are Independents. They are Republicans. Many of them have never been involved with politics before. Many are Hispanic and African American. They are all Americans. But they are concerned about our country. They seem to be able to do something we can't do here. They add and subtract. They understand we can't keep spending more than we are bringing in and expect the country to survive. We even brought up a resolution--the Senator from Utah did--to have a sense of the Senate that we should balance our budget. Just about every Democrat voted against that. That means there is an intent to bankrupt our country. Because there is no way around it; if we keep spending more than we bring in, we will bankrupt the country.

That is the course this President has put us on. That is the course Senator Reid and the Democratic majority want to keep us on. When we try to do even modest, nominal reductions in spending to change the trend line, they are coached, as Senator Schumer has said, to call it extreme and to blame it on the tea party. Americans are smarter than that. I think my colleagues are getting ready to figure that out.

We come down to the bottom line the Senator from Utah mentioned. Why are they doing this? They look back to 1997, back in the 1990s, and they think they can win the PR battle. Even more importantly, the President needs a distraction. The focus on the President now is revealing a lack of leadership in domestic policy and foreign policy. He has led us into a mess in Libya. He has led us into a domestic mess and has us on a course to bankrupt the country. He is trying to take over health care. And all those unions and other people who were advocating for it are now asking for waivers. There have been over 1,000 waivers, people who want to get out of this health care bill. The financial reregulation Dodd-Frank bill is threatening to hurt the economy even more. The President needs a distraction. This is a choreographed distraction to close the government down, to draw attention, to try to shift the blame from a President who has been AWOL from leadership and has very little political courage.

That is what we need right now across America. That is what Americans are asking us to do, to keep fighting, be bold. This is not a matter of partisan politics as much as it is a matter of national survival. We have to make some hard decisions. We can't keep spending more than we are bringing in. We have to do what families do, tighten our belts, balance the checkbook.

These are not radical ideas. All we have to respond to is what the House has passed today. Senate Democrats who control this place have not offered any solution. The President has not offered a solution. I suspect we will not even be allowed to vote on the one option we have, what the House sends over here. Yet they think Americans are so stupid that they can come to the floor and blame Republicans who have no control over the situation except to send us what they think is best from the House.

That is what they are doing. They need to be applauded. Speaker Boehner has done everything he can to try to work with all parties here to responsibly keep the government going and at the same time to recognize we cannot keep this reckless spending the President has been doing the last couple of years. This is an urgent and serious matter that I am afraid is being played as a PR game by the other side.

The misrepresentations I heard just before about the budget being proposed on the House side are very difficult to swallow. The truth is very rare in this body. I hope all Americans will take the time to look at what is really going on because this is all a blame game, and the Democrats are counting on Americans not to pay attention, to take their cues from the national media.

We are going to do everything we can to keep the government open, to responsibly respond to what the voters told us last November, and not to play the blame game with the other side. But this is being played as a game instead of a matter of serious national survival, a serious national issue. But the bill we will hopefully have a chance at least to debate that the House just passed will take our No. 1 responsibility, to defend our country, fund our troops, and make sure that is done for the balance of the year. We can argue about the rest next week, but let's fund our troops this week and do what we were sent here to do.

Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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