September 28, 2013
Good afternoon, Chairman Sessions, Ranking Member Slaughter, and members of the Rules Committee.
I am here before you today to present an amendment to the Senate amendment to H.J. Res. 59, the Continuing Resolution that will keep the doors of the government open after the end of the fiscal year on Monday, September 30, 2013.
I seek an appropriate rule to provide for the expeditious consideration of this important legislation.
As you know, we face a very short timeline for getting this done. With amendments, we will need to send this bill back to the Senate for approval, and we have only three legislative days to get this to the President for his signature to avoid a government shutdown.
I do not need to remind my colleagues, both in the House and the Senate, that a government shutdown would be terrible for this country. The American people have spoken, and they do not want a government shutdown.
It would hamper economic growth and put our national security in jeopardy. It would signal to our people that their governing bodies do not have their best interests at heart – that we would rather play politics than do the job we were sent here to do.
The base provisions of this bill remain very similar to the version the House passed last Friday. The funding level is maintained at the current, post-sequestration level of $986 billion. Excepting the date change, the Senate made only a few minor, largely non-controversial tweaks to the underlying legislation.
My amendment to the Senate amendment makes three changes:
The end date would change back to the original, House-passed date of December 15th. I have been flexible on the length of this CR, but a later date will provide the additional time we may need to complete the regular Appropriations work for fiscal year 2014.
My amendment would also make a technical change to an anomaly for the Eisenhower Commission added by the Senate; this change will simply allow the current status of the project to be maintained.
Lastly, it would add a new anomaly to extend the authority for the U.S. to issue Special Immigrant Visas. This authority is necessary to ensure that the visas continue for Iraqis who assisted the U.S. during the war – many of whom put their lives on the line to do so. Since the first version of this CR was introduced, it has become clear that this new provision is widely supported.
I believe the House can readily accept these changes, and pass this bill to provide good-governance and keep the lights on in our government as we continue to work toward a solution to our many fiscal problems. The immediate future of the country is on the line here. I hope that my colleagues in the House and the Senate realize the gravity of this situation, and act accordingly.
While I believe that a continuing resolution is not the proper way to fund the government, it is absolutely necessary that we pass this legislation today.