September 28, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to move forward with 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.
It’s unfortunate that yet again we are in this situation – facing yet another shutdown showdown, with no solution to our many fiscal problems in sight. Funding the government with a continuing resolution should not be Plan A, Plan B, or even Plan Z. But our challenges are many, and our timeline is short, so passing this CR today is essential.
The House passed a version of this bill last Friday, and the Senate amended it and sent it back to us to consider once again.
The motion before us agrees to the Senate amendments with two further amendments, one delaying Obamacare for a year, and one repealing the medical device tax.
Included in each amendment are three changes that I have requested: The first changes the date back to the House-passed end date of December 15 to provide time to pass the fiscal year 2014 Appropriations bills. I have been flexible on the length of this CR, but this longer time frame will help avoid the potential need for another CR in the interim.
The second would make a technical change to an anomaly for the Eisenhower Commission added by the Senate; this change will simply continue the status quo of a hold on the project.
Finally, the third will add a new anomaly to extend the authority for the U.S. to issue Special Immigrant Visas for the length of this CR. 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. It has become clear that since this CR was first introduced that this new provision has wide, bipartisan support.
One of our primary jobs as Members of Congress is to provide our people with important programs and services only the federal government can provide, and to ensure these services are available. This bill does just that.
However, it is also our responsibility to address the nation’s fiscal challenges head on, with a realistic and pragmatic approach that will allow for attainable solutions. With the debt ceiling looming, a fragile economy in recovery, and the threat of additional, draconian sequestration cuts that will gut our national defense, it is essential that we come together to find common ground.
One side cannot do it alone, and inaction or failure on these critical issues could lead to disastrous results for our people and our nation for years to come.
I’d like to take a moment now to remind you of just a few of the consequences if the government were to shut down: Our troops will not be paid. Our national security will be put at risk. Our borders will weaken. Our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly, and our veterans may not get the assistance they rely on. Our businesses, facing great uncertainty, will take a hit. And our economy will suffer.
We must act responsibly to keep our government open and our country on stable economic footing. Now and in the near future, we must also act as productive partners to keep our nation safe, provide our people with essential services, rein in unsustainable entitlement programs, and secure a responsible and realistic federal budget. And we must remember that we do this not just for ourselves and our districts, but for the nation as a whole.
I hope that today – with the “countdown to shutdown” clocks ticking away – my colleagues will understand that funding the government is one of these essential duties, and vote “yes” on this CR.