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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SANFORD. Mr. Speaker, we are at a shutdown, which is to say that we are in a challenging time.

My prayer, I think, is joined by so many other Republican colleagues for families that have been affected. It is something that we very much wanted to avoid in any way possible. That's why the multitude of different options were offered here by this House to the Senate, but they were ultimately rejected.

I think that the bigger question, though, in any challenging time is: What does it mean, and where do we go from here? In that light, I'd just like to offer a little bit of context as to what all of this means and what's going on.

Quite simply, I'd say that there is real value--real wisdom--in different perspectives. I don't think it's lost on any of us as Republicans in the House that two beats one in the world of politics. You have here a President who has said, I'll negotiate with Syrians, and I'll negotiate with Putin. You have Harry Reid, who has been anything but wanting to work with the Republicans in the House--he has been awfully dismissive--when what Republicans have been trying to say is, Wait a minute. Let's pause for just a second. There is a different perspective that we are hearing from folks back home on the implications in the implementation of so-called ``ObamaCare'' in going forward.

The first is an issue that, frankly, has been lost in this whole debate, which is the constitutional issue on, ultimately, the balance of power and the separation of power. Our Founding Fathers were very deliberate in setting up a system wherein the Congress was to create laws; the judiciary was to interpret them with a thumbs up or thumbs down on constitutionality; and the executive branch was to administer. But what you have in this particular instance is a breach of that separation of power, because you have a President that is sort of unilaterally picking and choosing that which is to be implemented.

Can you imagine if Bill Clinton or George Bush were to selectively decide the way in which the Tax Code might be implemented? We're just going to enforce it on poor folks but not on rich folks. To a great degree, that's what is happening here, and it is a constitutional issue that sets precedent in going forward, in essence, on the very separation of powers as deliberated and laid out in the Constitution;

Secondly, I think it is a big issue and worthy of debate because, in this instance, you have 1,200 bigger businesses that were granted waivers before, ultimately, it was absolved for all large corporations while individuals were still stuck dealing with the law. You had an exemption for Members of Congress but no exemption for individuals across this country. That idea of selectively implementing, I think, is very, very dangerous ground because, ultimately, I would say a good part of the glue that has held our Republic together for over 200 years has been this notion of fairness, or equity. People believe that you may not like some of the laws, but, ultimately, they were administered fairly, evenly. That is not what is taking place at the onset of the Affordable Care Act, and I think you are playing with real dynamite when you begin to selectively implement a law.

Thirdly, as has been noted by a number of speakers earlier, I would say there are real cost considerations. We are at something of a tipping point as a civilization as to what our Nation can afford, and we are looking at an awfully big, new bill that will come with this particular bill.

Fourthly, I would say we are looking at some real unintended consequences that, I think, are worthy of the pause, simply the delay, that if you're going to have the selective implementation of a bill, it warrants the delay of that bill because, in this case, you have entities as disparate as the University of Virginia, where I went to graduate school, or UPS, saying, We are no longer going to offer health care to spouses and dependents. You have unintended consequences in terms of businesses cutting employment at 50, or you look at the number of hours that one works, saying, Okay, we're going to tap you below 30 hours.

There are very serious, unintended consequences that, again, I think, warrant the House's position of simply saying, Should we pause for a year since the President, himself, has decided to give pause to any number of parts to this bill?

One last thought on context, and that is that the media would have you believe that this is a fight of epic proportions, of epic consequences, of epic nature. In fact, if you look at what has happened with shutdowns in the past--and this is in no way to minimize their effect or the significance of where we are--there have actually been 17 shutdowns here over, basically, the last 35 years. I was here for the last one back in the mid-1990s. If you look at those 17, 12 occurred while Tip O'Neill was sitting in your Speaker's chair, Mr. Speaker. In many cases, it was a Democratic President with a Democratic Senate, with a Democratic House, wherein they disagreed on whether or not we should produce a nuclear carrier or how we were going to fund abortion or how we were going to fund some other portion of government.

So I think that what we have here is a simple disagreement that has ground to a halt right now, but there is a larger context that, I think, is very, very important that the Republicans are trying to advance, which is: how we move forward in a way that doesn't hurt the American public.

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