‘Let’s Fund the Government, Extend S-CHIP, and Do Right by the Americans Who Elected Us to Serve Them’
‘There is nothing - nothing - in such a continuing resolution that my Democratic friends actually oppose. Surely they do not oppose continuing to fund programs for opioid treatment and prevention, even as negotiations continue on additional funding. Surely they do not oppose continuing to fund our military and our national security, even as negotiations continue on additional funding. They couldn’t possibly want to cut off existing funding for veterans, the VA system, and America’s seniors simpl
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need for a government funding agreement:
“Congress is fast approaching our Friday deadline to fund the government. The choice before us is simple. We can pass a noncontroversial, bipartisan bill to keep the government open. Or Democrats in Congress can manufacture a crisis and force a government shutdown over the unrelated issue of illegal immigration, which we have until March, at least, to resolve.
“Leaders in both parties have engaged in constructive talks on the best resolution for those who fall under the Obama administration’s illegally-established DACA program, along with other important immigration issues. The president has made it clear that any immigration bill must not only treat the symptoms of illegal immigration, but also address the conditions that cause it. His four pillars for reform are: increased border security, reforming chain migration, resolving the DACA issue, and addressing the visa lottery.
“My position is straightforward: When negotiators produce a compromise that the president supports, it will receive a vote in the Senate. No such solution yet exists. So the negotiations continue. The DACA issue does not face urgent deadlines until March, at the earliest. Our deadline to fund the government is tomorrow.
“Later today, we anticipate the House will pass a bill that continues government funding and also attends to another urgent, bipartisan concern. It will reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for a full six years, giving needed security to the families of nine million American children who depend on the program for coverage. A continuing resolution plus a six-year S-CHIP extension is a commonsense package that every member of this body should support.
“Just consider my Democratic colleagues’ own words on this very subject. Just last month, the senior senator from Pennsylvania said, quote, ‘any uncertainty about the Children’s Health Insurance Program is … an insult to the country.’ He represents 342,000 children enrolled in S-CHIP. Now he’ll have a chance to end that uncertainty.
“Our newest colleague, the junior Senator from Alabama, made S-CHIP a central issue in his campaign. He presented himself as the champion of vulnerable kids. He said the Senate had to, quote, ‘stop playing political football with the health care of our children.’ Now he represents 150,000 of those children. Will he help put a stop to the political games?
“The senior Senator from Ohio said ‘healthcare for our kids shouldn’t be controversial…It shouldn’t be partisan. It should be easy.’
“The junior Senator from Maine called a potential lapse in S-CHIP ‘an abdication of our responsibility.’
“The junior Senator from Oregon said, quote, ‘struggling families would like to have some stability, not have their children be a bargaining chip in some broader vision.’
“All of these Democratic Senators represent tens of thousands of children who depend on S-CHIP. I am more than puzzled why they would threaten to turn their backs on those children – and shut down the government, while they’re at it – over the unrelated issue of illegal immigration.
“Last year, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously agreed on a proposal to extend S-CHIP by five years. The continuing resolution we expect to take up will extend it for six, with no partisan attachments. This should not be a difficult vote. There is nothing – nothing – in such a continuing resolution that my Democratic friends actually oppose. Surely they do not oppose continuing to fund programs for opioid treatment and prevention, even as negotiations continue on additional funding.
“Surely they do not oppose continuing to fund our military and our national security, even as negotiations continue on additional funding. They couldn’t possibly want to cut off existing funding for veterans, the VA system, and America’s seniors simply because we are still negotiating additional funding.
“My friends on the other side of the aisle do not oppose a single thing in this bill. They know they can’t possibly explain to our warfighters and veterans, to our seniors, to our opioid treatment centers, to the millions of vulnerable children and their families who depend on S-CHIP for coverage, or to all the Americans who rely on the federal government for critical services like food inspections and Social Security checks.
“Why they would filibuster government funding and shut down vital programs for Americans because we have not yet agreed on the best way to settle an unrelated issue that we still have at least until March to resolve. Let’s fund the government, extend S-CHIP, and do right by the millions of Americans who elected us to serve them. That is how we can continue serious discussions on the issues facing our nation.”
Related Issues: Health Care, Immigration, Appropriations