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Public Statements

Challenges and Opportunities

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCALISE. I thank the gentlewoman from Missouri (Mrs. Hartzler) for her leadership as the chair of the RSC Communications Committee for leading this effort to talk about real solutions. Of course, today we are in day 14 of a government shutdown, a shutdown that has seen Republicans bring proposal after proposal after proposal to fund government. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out, there are more than 20 bills now that have been passed by the House of Representatives to fund all or parts of the Federal Government--20 bills. This chart chronicles the timeline, going back to September 20, well in advance of the midnight hour where, today, on day 14, by the way, President Obama has still yet to even engage in conversations.

In fact, we went to the White House Thursday to meet with the President, sat in a room with him for an hour and a half. The simple offer was: Mr. President, we will increase the debt ceiling. All we are asking is for you to start talking, just to agree to have conversations; and, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we left that meeting without the President even being willing to start talking.

And so we are 14 days into a government shutdown that the President is decrying and calling people names. You have got people in the White House literally calling people suicide bombers, terrorists, and all kinds of other things that are so unbecoming of the Office of the President of the United States--again, a President who said he was going to change the tone in Washington allowing people in his White House to call people on the opposition terrorists and suicide bombers--and yet he refuses to even sit at the table and negotiate our differences while we have passed 20 different bills to fund all or parts of government.

What are some of those parts of government? A bill to fund veterans affairs. Mr. Speaker, for all the areas of disagreement we have in Washington--and clearly, with a divided Nation with a divided government, there are areas where we have disagreement, but we should all be able to come to the table and say we ought to fund our veterans while we are negotiating our differences on the things we disagree upon.

And yet we sent the bill over to the Senate to fund our veterans, and Harry Reid tabled that bill, Mr. Speaker. We sent a bill to say that disaster aid shouldn't be something that we disagree over. We passed a bill with bipartisan votes and sent it over to the Senate. In fact, we saw one of the most disgraceful acts by a Commander in Chief, Mr. Speaker, where for days we saw this administration refusing to give death benefits to our fallen heroes, a moment I don't think we have seen in our Nation's history.

And we passed a bill to say don't hold our veterans hostage, and yet you still see barricades--I call them ``Obamacades''--up in front of the World War II Memorial, an open-air memorial where, in normal days, there is nobody there being paid to guard or block this memorial. It is an open-air memorial built to honor our World War II heroes. And yet when our World War II heroes come from all around the country, some in their nineties, come to see their memorial, they are greeted by barricades by this administration. This is the kind of embarrassing leadership that we are getting out of the White House when all we are saying is let's negotiate our differences like has always been done.

When Ronald Reagan was President, Tip O'Neill was

the Speaker, and you had divided government. There were 12 different shutdowns during that time in our Nation's history. What Ronald Reagan did as a leader, as a great leader, one that we surely miss today, Ronald Reagan started having regular meetings with Tip O'Neill. They actually built a relationship, started getting things done. And we saw one of the greatest revolutions, economic expansion in our Nation's history because you had a real leadership in the White House.

Mr. Speaker, again, we have sent 20 different bills over to the Senate, all chronicled, many of which had large Democrat votes out of the House. Still to this day, not one word from the President over whether he would agree to start talking. Of course, he wants to make it all about ObamaCare. Clearly, there are big areas where we have disagreement, but it is not just a partisan issue. It is not just Republicans who have issues with ObamaCare. Let's start with the occupant of the Oval Office.

Barack Obama has problems with ObamaCare. He has issued over 1,200 waivers to his signature law, as the gentlelady from Missouri pointed out. I have yet to find one small business in my district who got one of those waivers, by the way. It was handed out to a lot of special-interest friends who could get access to the White House. Is that the way the government is supposed to run? In fact, he even worked out a deal to give Members of Congress an exemption from his signature health care law.

So what we are saying, Mr. Speaker, is why don't we start with the basic premise of fairness. If this law is so good, make it apply to everybody. If it is not that good, if it is so bad you need to issue 1,200 waivers to your friends, Mr. Speaker, then why not give that same waiver to all Americans until this thing is ready to work, which clearly it is not. As somebody once said, the failures of this law, October 1 was a date that for 3 years they knew was coming, where these exchanges had to be up and running, and now we are hearing debacle after debacle, people registering 12, 14 times without being able to get through. Somebody said it is like not being prepared for Valentine's Day.

So as we stand here today talking about getting our economy back on track and talking about the 20 different proposals we have sent over to the Senate to get government up and running, most of which have not been given even a minute's consideration, literally tabled on party-line votes by Senator Reid, what we are saying is: How about just fairness? Let's start with fairness and make ObamaCare apply to everybody. If it is that good, why don't we make it apply to everybody? Get rid of all these special waivers, all these special backroom deals to everybody from the President's friends to Members of Congress. Let's make it apply to everybody. Let's get the government back open, and let's start tackling our long-term spending problems that are causing programs like Medicare and Social Security to face bankruptcy where we have put good plans on the table to save those programs from bankruptcy and, frankly, Mr. Speaker, to save our country from bankruptcy so we can hand off to our kids and grandkids the same opportunity that we enjoy today in the greatest country in the history of the world, a country that is facing serious problems, a country, unfortunately, facing a lack of leadership from the President who, 14 days into a government shutdown, still to this day has not even agreed to start talking with people from the other party to work out those differences.

I thank the gentlewoman from Missouri for creating this forum to talk about solutions, and my other colleagues in the Republican Study Committee who have been bringing forward solution after solution to get our economy moving again and restore the greatness that this country knows is there, that beacon of light that we are all fighting for here tonight on the House floor.


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