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Barbara B.
Democrat CA

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  • Continuing Appropriations

    by Senator Barbara Boxer

    Posted on 2013-10-09

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    BOXER. Madam President, would it be possible--because Senator Casey and I were each thinking we would get 10 minutes and we are willing to cut that to 15 minutes between the two of us--could we ask unanimous consent, if the Republicans don't mind, just slipping a little bit, because people took extra time.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mrs. BOXER. Thank you. So we will each have about 7\1/2\ minutes.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California is recognized.

    Mrs. BOXER. Madam President, we are going to fix the injustice my colleague spoke about--the injustice to the families who lost their loved ones. Let me be clear about one of those five families who were denied the benefit and someone important to me a constituent of mine-- Army 1LT Jennifer Moreno from San Diego, who was killed this weekend in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb. Jennifer was 25 years old. Because of this shutdown brought to us by the Republicans, those families have to suffer even more than they are already suffering.

    Let's be clear. This never had to happen. This government has been shut down by the Republicans for one reason, and John Boehner was honest about it. He said: The American people don't want to shut down the government, but the American people don't want ObamaCare. They don't want the Affordable Care Act.

    Let me say that to close down the government because a person doesn't like a law that was passed almost 4 years ago, to shut down the government because a presidential election was lost and which was based, in large part, on this--to shut down the government, to keep our people--millions of them--from getting affordable care for the first time, it is a disgrace. It is. There is no other way to say it, except maybe it was said beautifully here. It was said beautifully here by the chaplain: ``Enough is enough.'' We are going to fix this problem; of course we are, this indignity our military families had to face. But let's be clear: It never would have happened if the government had been open.

    We have two things that are in our job description. I know the Presiding Officer knows that quite well. One is to keep the doors of government open officially. We do our best, but we don't always succeed. There are problems here and there. Keep the doors open. Just as a pilot has to fly a plane, just like a teacher has to teach a class, just like a nurse has to give a vaccination, we have a basic responsibility to keep this government open, and we know how to do it. They pass a budget over in the House, we pass it in the Senate, the conference is called, they hammer it out, and we have a budget plan, and none of this would be happening. Let's be clear. The Republicans have objected now 21 times--21 times--to Senator Murray, the chairman of our Budget Committee, so she can sit and confer with her counterpart, Paul Ryan, and hammer out the details of a long-term budget. But, no. The Republicans don't want to do that. They want to hold the country hostage. They want to put our backs up against the wall, or the backs of the American people. Why? They don't like the health care law.

    If a person doesn't like a law, that person tries to repeal it. They tried to repeal it 43 times. It went nowhere. If you don't like a law, try to replace the people who support the law. Oh, they tried. They tried and they failed. I served with five Presidents, three of them Republican. I didn't like everything they did; believe me. But after they won and they had an agenda, I did what I could, and so did my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to carry it out the best I could, to fix it where I could.

    Let me just say this: We are in a shutdown because they are throwing a temper tantrum about the health care law, the Affordable Care Act. I wish to share some news with them, because I went home to see how the health care law is working in my State. I want to say what I know. I know it is working. By now we have had more than a million distinct visitors to our site, coveredCA.com. We have tens of thousands of applications. We have completed more than 20,000. Small businesses by the hundreds are coming on to the site.

    In the time I have remaining, let me read to my colleagues about one woman the Republicans want to stop from getting health care by shutting down the government. According to the Associated Press, nothing could dissuade Rachel Mansfield of La Quinta, who sent in an application to Covered California last week. Rachel has been waiting for the exchange to start so she and her husband could get health insurance. Rachel is self-employed. Her parents currently pay a $530 monthly premium for her coverage. Her husband has been rejected for health coverage because he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rachel's new premium, instead of it being $530 for just her, will be $400 for both of them, with higher quality coverage than she currently has.

    That is why the Republicans are having a temper tantrum, to stop my constituent from, for the first time, having peace of mind and having good insurance? Come on. If you don't like the law, work with us. We can make it better.

    Then there is Melissa Harris. According to the Fresno Bee, Melissa stopped at a CoveredCA tent on campus. She is paying $600 a month with help from her family for insurance through her former employer. She has diabetes and hypertension and, under the Affordable Care Act--which prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions--she can now afford health insurance on her own. And the quote from her, from my constituent is, ``It's a Godsend for me--a blessing.'' It is a blessing. And that is why the Republicans are shutting down the government, to stop my constituent from getting a blessing of health insurance.

    There was another story of a man who waited on the phone for 40 minutes, and he finally got on. He signed up and he said: You know what, I have been waiting for years. Forty minutes was nothing.

    So I say to my friends, the law is the law. Open the government, pay our bills, and we will negotiate.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Heinrich). The Senator's time is expired.

    Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I yield the rest of the time to Senator Casey.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.

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