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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. HIMES. Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be able to follow the rank, partisan remarks of Mrs. Blackburn's, because I wanted to speak this morning on the subject of compromise.

Compromise is not an easy subject to speak on because, of course, we all have it in our minds here that the right thing to do is to lead great ideological battles--to stand unbending by your principles, to stand up for what you think is right--and it is the right thing to do to stand up for what you think is right.

Compromise is a hard thing to discuss because, of course, those on the fringes, those on the extreme--those who are unbending--will accuse us of not standing by our ideals if we compromise; but the fact is that most, if not all, of the accomplishments in the history of this country that have been achieved by the United States Congress have been achieved through compromise.

Let's talk for a moment about one of the reasons I am happy to represent the State of Connecticut.

The Congress in which Mrs. Blackburn and I serve--the very structure and architecture of that Congress--was formed by something known as the Connecticut Compromise of 1787, when Roger Sherman and a group of people who disagreed on stunning issues of the day--and some of the people who were disagreeing were inviting foreign powers in to stand with them--came together and said, Do you know what? We will have a bicameral legislature--a Senate and a House--that will balance the big States and the small States.

And Roger Sherman's statue is here in the Capitol.

By the way, the capital is here because Madison and Jefferson and others of our Founding Fathers made a compromise in which they said the Federal Government will assume the remaining Revolutionary debt of the States in exchange for putting the capital in the Southern States. Compromise is how we get things done around here.

For those who might challenge my own credentials on compromise, I will point out that I was one of 38 Members of this body--less than 10 percent of the House of Representatives--who voted for the Simpson-Bowles' budget. Everyone else said, No, I am not going to compromise because that's too difficult.

So what about the crossroads at which we find ourselves today--the possibility of a government shutdown that would hurt our economy and certainly hurt an awful lot of Americans and the even more egregious possibility that we would not honor the full faith and credit of the United States Government for the very first time in our 240-year history?

Is this a great national battle between North and South? between Republicans and Democrats?

No, it is not. It is something far more unnecessary and uninspiring.

On one side of this debate, we have got, actually, the majority of Republicans and the majority of Democrats who say, Let's come together. Let's not bring an unnecessary crisis to our country--a manufactured, artificial crisis. Let's compromise. On the other side, you've got a handful of, maybe, three or four Senators and of maybe 30 or 40 Members of the House of Representatives who are so possessed of the Lord's wisdom--they so embody the tradition of our Founding Fathers--that they will listen to no one, and they will refuse to compromise.

But who are these people?

These are people who believe that the best way today to spur economic growth is to put in place savage cuts that will fire teachers and firefighters and nurses, because that will help--despite all evidence to the contrary. These are people who believe that the storms and the tornadoes that have ravaged just about every State in this country have absolutely nothing to do with climate change--despite all evidence to the contrary. These are people who believe that ObamaCare today is doing great damage to this Nation--despite all evidence to the contrary. These are people who don't believe that the President of the United States was born in this country--despite all evidence to the contrary.

So much could get done--comprehensive immigration reform, a budget that looks a little something like the Simpson-Bowles' budget for which I voted. So many things could get done, Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman from Ohio would set aside this small rump group of dead-enders and say, We will govern. We will govern this Nation in the tradition of Roger Sherman, of James Madison, of Thomas Jefferson by listening to the other side, by shutting down the extremes and by thinking about the long-term interests of this great country.

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