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Mr. WALBERG. I thank the gentlelady for yielding time and for leading this discussion of a way forward.
I appreciate the fact that we are now in a shutdown of government that I fear has been intentionally perpetrated in order to force something further on the American people.
I remember between my first term in office, after being defeated in 2008 to come back here and spending time for the next 2 years back in my district, and in watching my colleagues--my former colleagues and now my present colleagues--battle and debate on the floor of this great Chamber, in this great House, this great Capitol, in the people's House, the issue of what then was called the Affordable Care Act. I remember reading about it and listening and speaking with colleagues and asking what their impression was, and then ultimately hearing the Speaker of the House say: Let's pass this, let's pass it and then we can find out what's in it; and reading the comments of fellow legislators who had not even read this full bill and understanding that there was much in it, much that ultimately would be found out later on to be an extreme problem, not just to carry out, not just to regulate, not just to implement, as we've seen in the last couple of days--and we can certainly assume that there will be break-in problems to get something this massive, this intrusive, this complicated up and working--but more so the problem of looking at a takeover of one-sixth of our Nation's economy, the problem of challenging people with something so complicated that even experts and consultants wouldn't be able to tell them for sure what this would mean to them, but more importantly, the impact upon liberty, freedom, the American ideal.
In the last 2 days, as we've debated the issue of a continuing resolution, because of the unwillingness of the Congress of the United States to ultimately get a budget in place to move ourselves forward--we come to continuing resolutions to just move it forward a little bit longer. That's not the way we should be doing it. That's not the way this side of the aisle has requested and fought to make it happen. But when there is an unwillingness to come in alongside and negotiate, come to a table and work something forward, to put through appropriations bills that implement the programs and pay for them, we have a problem.
So now here we are in a shutdown, a shutdown in the making of an unwillingness of the Senate, yes, but I think more so the unwillingness of leaders to listen to their people.
We've read the reports in the polls. We've heard before we went into this battle the last few days that the American people want this government to fund its basic services and not to shut down. We've also read in those polls the same people, a majority, have said we want to delay or defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act. So we have that as our task and, at the very least, to delay to a point that we can see what's in it and take action to amend, to repeal, or to completely go to a plan that will work.
So we have veterans of the Second World War being locked out of going to their war memorial, except for the fact that Members of Congress have gone and opened up those gates.
I just got a call from a constituent of mine who is here in the Capital today and wanted to go over and see the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon. We assumed that that was open; it always is. There's no guard. You can walk into that memorial. But that's closed. Why? Is it because we want to make this problem harder for our citizens than it should be in order for them to get over the idea of reading the bill, knowing what's in it, and then asking for redress from their Members of Congress who represent them?
I went to the E-Verify site yesterday and I saw E-Verify, a computer program that's in place. It doesn't take a person to run it. It's operating. It's a system. It's connected to all sorts of data systems. Yesterday and today it says:
Alert. E-Verify is unavailable due to the Federal Government shutdown. For more information, please click here.
This is what is being done to the citizens of the United States to produce the pain through the shutdown experience in order to ultimately say: Uncle, I will give in to a law. Yes, it is a law, but a law can always be redressed and changed. And they're asking for us to take the time to look at the Affordable Care Act, now known as ObamaCare.
A lady in Jackson, Michigan, in the heart of my district, called in to our office, our local office and, in tears, said: Here's my problem. This morning, my employer, a local provider of home health care who I have worked for for a number of years for 35 hours, and then I make up the difference of my 40 hours that I need and beyond by working in a restaurant on the weekends,this employer of mine told me today that they're moving me now to 25 hours instead of 35. And why? Because of the Affordable Care Act. She said: It's not affordable to me because now I will have less income, less hours. How do I pay my mortgage, and how do I buy health insurance?
Or it's the autoworker in Monroe, Michigan, on Lake Erie in my district, a hardworking guy who said to me at a town hall meeting just a week and a half ago: Mr. Congressman, I want you to know that times are tough. I have some great concerns. My wife is sick and I have a $900 a month health care bill that I have to pay. But I want you to stand firm. And I said: Sir, what do you mean by ``stand firm''? He said: Shut down ObamaCare. Give us back our choice, our freedom.
The 54-employee business in Adrian, Michigan, who told me last week that--and they're beyond the level of being able to just simply toss off the insurance to the employees. They're not wanting to cut from their 54 employees down to below 50. But they received a notice from their insurance company that they were being canceled, and when approached, they were told it was in preparation for the uncertainties of the Affordable Care Act.
That shouldn't be the experience in the State of Michigan or any other place in this great country. That shouldn't be the experience--that employers are encouraged to downsize as opposed to continue to expand. I could go through testimony after testimony similar of the challenges that have come from the Affordable Care Act that has become unaffordable and unmanageable.
All we are asking for is the opportunity to work together to negotiate toward a compromise on the way forward, Mr. Speaker. That's possible.
We passed a bill the other day unanimously to fund our military. The Senate passed that. That shows that if we want to, it can get done.
This summer, 35 Democrats voted with Republicans to delay the employer mandate and 22 voted to delay the individual mandate. Seventeen voted to repeal the medical device tax last week, as recently as last week.
We can get things to work if we are willing to sit down and negotiate toward a compromise that speaks to the concerns of our constituents. Seven of the more than 40 bills the House has approved to repeal all or part of the ObamaCare have been signed into law.
We could go on and on, Mr. Speaker.
But I get to a final point of concern for me. With the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, we also have crossed the line into the areas of our personal freedoms and our rights of conscience. Yes, I was a minister by training and background before going into politics. I understand there are religious beliefs, there are denominational beliefs, and there are a lot of differences. But the beauty of this great country, Mr. Speaker, is that we have always espoused the opportunity for freedom of religion and rights of conscience regardless. We have truly had plurality in our country.
Yet this one act is tromping down on the individual rights of conscience and religious liberties, our First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. A former Prime Minister of the Netherlands back in the 1900s by the name of Abraham Kuyper really made this point of where I am going, Mr. Speaker, when he said:
When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling and peace has become sin. You must at the price of dearest peace lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy with all the fire of your faith.
When we hear of the little Sisters of Mercy being told that they are not religious enough to carry on their rights of conscience in relationship to the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Speaker, we have a problem. When we have a devout Catholic business owner who employs several hundred employees in the west part of Michigan who, because of his rights of conscience, has chosen to say we will provide insurance for our employees under the Affordable Care Act or any act, but we cannot provide insurance that violates our long-standing, strong-held rights of conscience, and courts say, because of this act, no, you can't do that.
Mr. Speaker, it is time to identify the challenges here, to read what is in the bill, to implement the changes necessary or go back, I believe, to the first and foremost principle of this great country, and that is liberty and justice for all, and develop a program that expands choice, opportunity, responsibility, variety, competition, and ultimately the ability for our citizens, our constituents, the people we serve, to care for their lives, their health in the best way possible with their government standing on their side, not in their way.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this issue. It needs to be spoken to over and over and over again until ultimately we win the day and give back that liberty and opportunity to our American citizens.
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