Continuing Appropriationsby Senator Chuck Grassley
Posted on 2013-10-09
GRASSLEY. For the benefit of those on the other side of the
aisle, I am not going to end my remarks with the issue of a unanimous
consent, but I still have things I wish to say.
No one supports a government shutdown, not my side of the aisle or the other side of the aisle. Could we have avoided this situation? Sure. The government could be open and fully operating today but for the majority. There was an unwillingness to engage in a legitimate debate over proposals to amend ObamaCare or any other issues that have come before us, not even having a debate on those pieces that have come over from the other body. Hiding behind a motion to table is a way of avoiding debate.
As we know, the House passed and the Senate defeated three different continuing resolutions. Each one of those would have kept the government open and prevented a shutdown, but they were rejected by the Senate majority.
We are in this position because the majority refused to give the American people relief from the individual mandate and treat President Obama and his political appointees the same as all other Americans or as we now in Congress will be treated when it comes to health insurance.
We could have considered each of the 12 individual appropriations bills and passed them into law. But the Senate Democratic leadership has been derelict in that responsibility.
The Senate did not get into debate on a single one of those bills prior to the end of the fiscal year. I heard what my colleague from Iowa said, that one was brought up, then amendments were filed, and there wasn't a motion to move ahead. The point is the Senate is a deliberative body. Every Senator has a right to offer an amendment. We were denied that right by the majority or at least weren't assured of that right by the majority, and that is why cloture was not granted.
Of course, what the American people deserve is fair consideration of all the money we appropriate. We don't get that consideration on a continuing resolution, we get it lumped into one piece of legislation. We should, as the Senator from Wyoming said, be considering separate appropriations bills.
I remember not too long ago that a chairman of an Appropriations Committee on the other side of the aisle, when they were in the majority, was bragging to the Senate that for the first time in a long time the Senate passed every single appropriations bill before the end of the fiscal year. If it could be done then, why can't it be done now? But it isn't going to be done if we aren't willing to debate the bills.
It seems to me the American people, the taxpayers, deserve a thoughtful and good-faith effort to find common ground on our spending matters. It is a duty to pass spending bills.
Passing a continuing resolution has become a new normal around here. That is not right. It is not acceptable. While we wait for the Senate majority and the President of the United States to come to the negotiating table and end their government shutdown, we should be working to fund or reopen areas of government where there is agreement.
This is what we did when we passed the Pay Our Military Act, where we all agreed to pay those both in and out of uniform who defend our freedom. We made a commitment to them because of their commitment to our country. The military people deserve that piece of legislation.
This is what we should be doing to open our national parks and monuments. That is what we should be doing to ensure the critically important work of the National Institutes of Health.
Why hold these widely supported and critically necessary areas hostage? Why is the majority insisting on an all-or-nothing approach? Why can't we agree to fund these things we agree on and negotiate the rest? At the very least, a little bit of common sense ought to prevail. It was common sense, for instance, when the minority leader made the point about chaplains. It is common sense that chaplains have an obedience not only to the government but to a higher authority, and they ought to be able to exercise that wherever they are.
We have a situation that the parks aren't open. We have a situation where the World War II Memorial was closed down. Open-air memorials have never been closed down when we had shutdowns in the past. A little common sense prevailing would avoid a lot of these situations we are bringing before the Senate for consideration.
Remember, the House of Representatives has passed legislation to keep the government open, and the Senate has refused it.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
Unanimous Consent Request--H.J. Res. 85 Mr. COATS. There is an interesting debate going on without achieving any results. Let me take a crack at trying to make a more persuasive argument to see if my colleagues across the aisle would agree.