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Border Security and Enforcement Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Have we had enough yet?

The American people are fed up with partisan games and procedural gimmicks. They see right through them, and they are demanding that we come together and get the government back to work today.

If the Speaker of the House is so sure that the votes for a clean funding bill are not there, he should call the vote to prove it to the American people. But he won't do that, because everyone in this Chamber knows that the Senate-passed continuing resolution would clear this House in a heartbeat and end this Tea Party-fueled dream of government collapse.

Today, the majority has decided that the government function they want to give political cover to is border security. Border security, obviously, was not very high on their list. We have had to wait 10 days before they have gotten around to it.

Of course, the question remains: Why didn't they think more about border security or cancer research or the national parks or women's and children's nutrition when they were shutting the government down in the first place last Monday? Ten days late and billions of dollars short, you might say.

As someone who has worked for years in a bipartisan spirit to secure our Nation's border, I certainly appreciate that border security is one of the most sensitive and dangerous areas of the budget with which to play partisan political games. But I have to ask: What about the many other critical homeland security functions that this bill wouldn't do anything to fix, including protecting our Nation from cyber attacks, for example, or keeping our aviation and mass transit systems safe or funding the Secret Service or developing the next generation of explosive detection technology?

We cannot continue to pick winners and losers by providing temporary funding for government services, operations and personnel. This piecemeal approach to governing is failing our constituents and is failing our economy. The only solution is to reopen the entire Federal Government by calling up the clean funding bill passed by the Senate.

Mr. Speaker, last week, we were told by Republican leaders not to worry. Furloughed employees should stand by, they said, while the House votes to open the government one news cycle at a time. Americans' livelihoods can't wait for another news cycle. We are tired of waiting. We are tired of this charade.

Let's dispense with this political theater. Let's get back to our basic job description: to keep the government open, to pay the country's bills, and to negotiate a comprehensive budget plan that lifts sequestration, revives our economy, and secures our fiscal future. The first step is a clean continuing resolution. Let's do that today.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, our Republican colleagues today have spoken accurately of the time-honored tradition of passing a budget in this Congress and then passing appropriations bills, one hopes on budget and on time, in an orderly fashion, conforming to the agreed-upon budget resolution.

Now, for a while this year, we thought we were on the same page with regard to agreeing on a budget going forward. In fact, colleagues will remember that Republicans badgered the Senate in past years for not having passed a budget. This year, the Senate passed a budget. The Senate worked hard and passed a credible budget; we looked forward to a more normal process being resumed.

But we were soon disabused of that, because the Republican leadership of this House steadfastly refused to go to conference to work out a common budget with the Senate which, of course, is the normal process.

We have been urging that the House go to conference for months. Why did they refuse? We have thought a lot about that. One possible reason is that no comprehensive budget plan could possibly pass their conference, given the Tea Party influence in that conference these days. That is the explanation that is suggested, I have to say, by the failure of Speaker Boehner's ``Plan B'': remember that, back in December? They left President Obama's budget overture on the table, never taking him up on that comprehensive offer.

But then after a while, our Republican friends warmed up to the idea of stalling on this, and we gradually realized: They are running out the clock! The Republicans are running out the clock. Why are they doing that? Maybe they are looking for a crisis atmosphere, letting the government shut down, running up against the possibility of default. In a crisis atmosphere, maybe they think they can extract more. Maybe they can extract more, by demanding a ransom, a political ransom. the Affordable Care Act, whatever. Because now with the clock run out, you are talking not just about negotiating a budget; you are talking about demanding a ransom merely to keep the government open; demanding a ransom merely to pay the country's bills, basic constitutional responsibilities which this body should meet without any threat of extortion.

Meanwhile, of course, they understand the public doesn't like this. So we have the spectacle today of yet another bill seeking political cover, to fund piecemeal a function of government which has been in the news and which people value.

Well, this charade has to end. Yes, we need to get back to the normal budget process in this country. The first step is to pass a clean funding bill to reopen the government, and the votes are here in this body to do that this afternoon. We also must lift the threat of defaulting on the Nation's debt.

And then, sure enough, let's get on with the negotiating of a comprehensive budget agreement, a budget agreement along the lines of the budget plans of 1990 and 1993. These budget plans helped produce a robust economy, and eventually produced 4 years of budget surpluses. We paid off $400 billion of the national debt in those years. Those were comprehensive agreements, to be sure. They were politically tough. They did include revenues. They included all categories of spending. They were painful votes for many in this body, but I continue to think they were among the best votes I ever cast. That is where we need to go. We all know that.

The question is, can we find the political will to get there? Let's muster that political will. We have had enough of the ransom demands. Let's reopen the government, let's lift the debt ceiling, and let's get on with serious negotiations, the kind of budget negotiations we should have been having all year.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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