A Democrat-Led Government Shutdown Is Completely Avoidable
‘We know that with one noncontroversial and bipartisan vote, we can keep the government up and running. We can fund the children’s health care program for six full years. And we can give ourselves the time we need to finish ongoing negotiations on DACA, border security and the long-term needs of our military. We can do all of that today. All of it. Or, our Democrat friends can continue to take the Democratic Leader’s advice and vote to shut down the government...'
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need to prevent a government shutdown:
“The deadline to fund the government is nearly upon us. The Senate is now just hours away from an entirely avoidable government shutdown. At midnight tonight, funding for programs that millions of Americans rely on — like veterans’ services, opioid treatment centers, death benefits for the families of fallen soldiers, and health insurance for nine million vulnerable children – would be thrown in chaos.
“Last night, the Senate began consideration of a bill passed by the House which would erase these threats. The bill keeps the federal government open. And it extends the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for nine million children in low-income families, for six years. This vote should be a ‘no-brainer.’
“And it would be – except that the Democratic Leader has convinced his members to filibuster any funding bill that doesn’t include legislation they are demanding for people who came to the United States illegally. What has been shoehorned into this discussion is an insistence that we deal with an illegal immigration issue. He’s insisted that he won’t support any legislation at all for the American people – no matter how noncontroversial or how bipartisan – unless we pass a bill on illegal immigration first.
“If that means shutting down funding for veterans, military families, opioid treatment centers, and even federal grants to his home state of New York — so be it. If it means throwing a wrench into the gears of the U.S. economy, just as Americans are starting to feel the benefits of historic tax reform – so be it. If it means failing to renew the children’s health program which the House-passed bill funded for a full six years — apparently that’s just fine with those on the other side.
“Nearly every Democrat in the House made the same demand. That has been their stated position: Nothing for hundreds of millions of Americans and no healthcare for nine million vulnerable children until we solve a non-imminent issue related to illegal immigration. To even repeat this position out loud is to see how completely ridiculous it is.
“Now that we’re 13 hours away from a government shutdown that Democrats would initiate and Democrats would own, the craziness of this seems to be dawning on my friend the Democratic Leader.
“Perhaps he is remembering his own words from 2013. Here’s what he said then about threatening a government shutdown: ‘No matter how strongly one feels about an issue, you shouldn’t hold millions of people hostage… that’s wrong.’ A few days later he added: ‘It’s sort of like this. Someone goes into your house, takes your wife and children hostage, and then says, ‘Let’s negotiate over the price of your house.’ He went on to say, ‘We could say ‘We’re shutting down the government, we’re not gonna raise the debt ceiling, until you pass immigration reform.’ It would be governmental chaos.’ End quote.
“Now maybe he is remembering those words today. Because now he is now saying ‘never mind, I didn’t mean it,’ and is himself calling for an even shorter, short-term funding bill. Of course, his last-ditch proposals would do nothing for the children’s health program or the nine million children that are waiting on us to renew it.
“But what is more, the incredibly short-term continuing resolutions he is now proposing do not meet any of the demands – none of them – that he, and his own conference, and Democrats in the House have been making for weeks. None of that would be solved in a short-term CR – the stuff they’ve been calling for.
“Apparently now he wants his members to default on their own demands. He has spent days persuading all his colleagues to insist we cannot pass another continuing resolution. Now he wants them to pass one. He has spent weeks getting his members to proclaim that we should not do anything to fund the government until we address the DACA issue. Now he is calling on them to do just that.
“These incredibly short-term extensions would not even give us enough time to actually write the legislation he is demanding. One extremely short-term CR would lead to another…and another. Exactly the outcome Democrats have declared they cannot accept. I wish – for all our sakes – that the Democratic Leader would figure out what he actually wants. I feel bad for his own members. He has painted them into a corner.
“But I especially feel bad for the American people whose government the Democrats are threatening to shut down, and the nine million children whose health insurance could be thrown into jeopardy, because Senate Democrats cannot get their story straight. My friend the Democratic Leader now wants his members to pass a bill that allows S-CHIP to expire.
“He now wants nearly every Democrat in the House of Representatives to break their word and pass a separate funding bill of his own that does not address the illegal immigration issue they said they must have. Let’s think about this for a minute. First he leads his own troops into a box canyon, then tells them it was all for nothing. Maybe it’s time to come back to reality.
“We already have a bill that we know can pass the House—because it already did. We have a bill that we know the president will sign into law—he’s already committed to that. We know that with one noncontroversial and bipartisan vote, we can keep the government up and running. We can fund the children’s health care program for six full years. And we can give ourselves the time we need to finish ongoing negotiations on DACA, border security and the long-term needs of our military.
“We can do all of that today. All of it. Or, our Democrat friends can continue to take the Democratic Leader’s advice and vote to shut down the government, destabilize funding for our troops, shut down the children’s health care program—and still not get what they’re demanding on illegal immigration. It’s really up to them.
“I look forward to voting soon on cloture for the House bill. The American people—the citizens who actually elected us—will be watching. They will see which Senators make the patriotic decision, stand up for the American people, and vote to continue government funding and extend children’s health insurance while we continue our bipartisan talks.
“And they will see which Senators vote to shove aside veterans, military families, and vulnerable children – to hold the entire country hostage until we pass an immigration bill they have not even written yet.
“This is completely unfair and uncompassionate for my Democratic colleagues to filibuster government funding, harm our troops, and jeopardize health coverage for nine million children because extreme elements of their base want illegal immigration to crowd out every other priority. Apparently they believe that the issue of illegal immigration is more important than everything else, all of the government services people depend on. I would recommend they stop the wild goose chase that will go to a destination that cannot be explained.
“Let’s fulfill the core responsibilities of Congress. Let’s fund the government, provide for the American people, and then resume serious negotiations on the issues that matter most. Let’s fund the government for a full month, so we can actually get something done.”
Related Issues: Immigration, Appropriations, Health Care, Senate Democrats, America's Military