Continuing Appropriationsby Senator Bill Nelson
Posted on 2013-10-01
NELSON. As I understand what the majority leader has just done,
the Senate has appointed conferees on the farm bill. That is an example
that when there is a political will, we can get together and get things
The National Institutes of Health, NASA, and all of the intelligence agencies--72 percent of all the civilians in the intelligence agencies, including the CIA, are furloughed. We are in a war with those people who are trying to do harm to us. We are having these people furloughed all because of a small group, the tea party, in one House of one branch of government who are intent on their agenda. It is irresponsible and reckless.
The truth is, if the Speaker would just bring up what we call the continuing resolution, which is all of the appropriations bills put together up to a date certain, November 15, it would pass overwhelmingly with Democrats and Republicans both voting for it, not the extremist small group down there, but the Speaker doesn't bring it up.
What I see happening--if this lasts for more than a day or two--is that the American people will be so irritated and upset that their lives are disrupted because they can't get government services they are going to insist that their government open once again.
I have an example. The fine work the people I have the privilege of working with and what they do for the people of my State never ceases to amaze me. It is not unusual when I am going into a meeting or airport or walking down the street when I am in the State of Florida, it is commonplace for people to come up and say to me: I want you to know that I appreciate so much what you did to help me or my mother or my son or my brother who is a veteran.
When they say those things, they are talking about all of these dedicated people whom I have the great privilege of working with to help the people of our State on the day-to-day necessities of their daily lives, such as an emergency situation, they realize their passport has expired or they lost their passport or didn't get their veterans payment or need help getting their brother into a veterans hospital or something happened to their Social Security payment or they need information about this particular piece of legislation or they are concerned about somebody they saw whom they thought was doing things and they need them to be referenced to the correct agency on a security matter. It goes on and on.
These wonderful people we have working with us--some young, some old--many of the ones who have been with me for years are so dedicated and work day and night. They work their fingers to the bone. They know exactly whom to call or to e-mail to get things done for people back home in need. We know what is going to happen. When they call any one of our offices in Florida, they are going to get a recording of my voice, telling them what has happened and how all of these folks have been furloughed and giving them an emergency contact as the one lifeline we can provide.
What happens next? If reasonable people were doing this, we would have never shut down in the first place--people who are bipartisan, who have some common sense, who recognize we can't have it our way all the time but in the best of American tradition respect the other fellow's point of view and then work out differences to achieve a consensus in order to gain a workable solution. If those kinds of reasonable folks had been operating, then we would never have shut down in the first place.
We have heard about this over and over in the speeches today: I voted for, in the Budget Committee, a budget. It came out of committee and came to the floor. We had over 100 amendments. It took hours and hours. We finally passed a budget which was the outline for the appropriations for the next fiscal year. We passed that in the Senate 6 months ago. The House did the same. They passed out a budget. But when we asked to go to a conference committee to get agreement for working out the differences between the two, that small group would not let the conference not only not convene but even be appointed.
I think the majority leader of the Senate will tell us we are ready to meet right now, but they have to open the government again. We have to put back to work these people who are trying to serve the American people and to protect the American people. Hopefully, if the American people hear these messages, they will get sufficiently agitated and insist that, once again, the crowd that has shut us down instead should open the government.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.