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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. I thank the gentleman from California for organizing this hour, and I appreciate the eloquence of our colleague from New York, both of whom have addressed the most important issue of the day, in fact, the last 8 days, as Mr. Garamendi has articulated.
Mr. Speaker, we find ourselves dealing with the issue ``de jure.'' Each day the goalposts move, each day the American public sits in utter amazement and disgust with its elective representatives. It is astounding to them to see the greatest Nation in the world brought to its knees.
Our forefathers were very prescient--and certainly George Washington, who Daniel Webster, the Senator from Massachusetts in this Chamber--well, actually, it would have been down the hall--got up on the 100th anniversary of George Washington's birth and talked about the President's admonitions. Amongst his keenest admonitions was about that of ``excessive'' party spirit.
Now, in Washington's day, there weren't political parties, as we know them. It wasn't Democrat or Republic; it was Federalist or anti-Federalist. He knew very well and was concerned deeply about what factions could do. He warned about the outside influence of party. But what he was most concerned about is what happens within a government if people in that very government are at war with their own existence, are working against the interest of the government and therefore the people.
So we find ourselves this evening as Members of the minority coming to this floor and asking for one simple thing from the majority, and that is a vote. Now, we understand that we have asked for votes on this floor--we have asked for votes to put the country back to work. As the gentleman from California has articulated on many occasions to come here and talk about making things in America and allowing a vote to put us back to work, we have been denied that opportunity. We have been denied the opportunity here to vote on nutrition and funding and making sure that important bills like the agriculture bill, that the very poor amongst us and the very needy are fed. We have been denied an opportunity to vote on immigration, as you heard Charlie Rangel talk about so nobly earlier this evening. We have also, most importantly, been denied a vote here that is fundamental to our democracy.
The most fundamental thing and the most patriotic thing that we do in a society is vote. Yet here, because of the tyranny of the majority, 200-plus Democrats are not allowed a vote. More importantly, the American people are not allowed a vote on the continuing of its government. As the gentleman from New York pointed out, not only is it the continuation and shutdown of government, but on the near horizon defaulting on the full faith and credit of the American people. This is unconscionable.
But Washington was prescient when a few, dangerously are at war with their own government, who seek to bring that government down, who seek to bring the government down through a shutdown; and then by not paying the bills that this body and the other body have racked up, the greatest Nation on the face of the Earth. We need to be able to express the will of the people. All we ask of the majority party is for a vote, a simple vote, as the gentleman from New York said, on a continuing resolution unencumbered that does nothing more, and at the levels that they have requested, but put the Nation back to work and then respond quickly to the need to pay our debts without being held hostage.
You are not holding Barack Obama hostage, Mr. Speaker. You are not holding the Democrats in Congress hostage, Mr. Speaker. You are holding the people of the United States hostage. For the sake of fairness and being responsible, bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Allow the minority the opportunity to vote.
If you don't have the votes, let it be so, and let the world know, and let every American citizen know, where their Members stand on this issue. Stand with your country. Do not let it be shut down. Do not let it default. At least give us a vote.
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