Continuing Appropriationsby Senator Daniel Coats
Posted on 2013-10-02
COATS. Mr. President, today is day 2 of the ongoing government
shutdown, and negotiations to find a resolution to our differences
remain at a stalemate. Actually, I don't think we can use the word
``negotiations'' because you really can't negotiate if there is only
one side at the table. It takes two parties, and there is only one
party there. Yesterday Majority Leader Reid made it crystal clear when
he blocked the House Republican proposal to sit down and talk. For
months we have heard that Republicans need to sit down and talk--from
the Senate. The House sent over a bill to do just that, and the
majority leader blocked that.
To say that the people in my State are frustrated with this type of action is an understatement. Hoosiers and Americans are tired of the ongoing dysfunction in Washington and the inability of Congress and this administration to do our job. We can't do our jobs if we are not talking to each other and if the White House continues to be absent.
I recently learned that the President has called congressional leaders from both parties to come to the White House. I initially thought that was a positive step, but then I heard the news that the White House has already released a statement saying the President is doing this to reiterate he will not negotiate. So my question is: What is the point? Maybe it is a chance for a photo opportunity, but certainly no progress will be made on the stalemate we are addressing today, tomorrow, and perhaps for weeks ahead.
It is ironic that the President is willing to talk and negotiate with the President of Iran or the President of Russia but is unwilling to negotiate with Republicans or Democrats in the Congress. Sadly, this has been the model over at the White House--continued campaigning, ignoring governing, and assembling pseudo-campaign-like settings to blast Republicans. This is not a helpful strategy to achieve a resolution to this shutdown.
We have seen a series of attempts by House Republicans to send over legislation that would at least fund some of the more dysfunctional effects of a shutdown. Fortunately, we agreed we will fund our troops. They are in harm's way. They have families at home who are trying to pay the mortgage, keep things together, buy food for the kids, save money for their education. They do all of those things while their spouses are overseas defending our country. It would be unconscionable to stop their paychecks, and that is the positive step we have taken.
House Republicans have also offered a number of other initiatives-- all of which has been deep-sixed by the majority leader. They are not even allowing debate--we can do that in this morning business time-- under the bill. We simply have a motion to table which does not even allow us an up-or-down vote.
I wish to mention two things that the House is going to send over-- and it may already be here--which is five more proposals and they also involve our uniformed soldiers. I am a U.S. Army veteran, but I think every American--whether you are a Democrat or Republican, veteran or not--would agree we have a duty to remember, honor, and support those who have sacrificed so much to protect and defend our country. When they complete their service and come home, those veterans deserve to receive the care and support they need.
The House has sent over an act called Honoring Our Promise to America's Veterans Act. It is a bill that would provide funding for disability payments, the GI bill, education, training, and VA home loans under the same conditions as in effect at the end of the just completed fiscal year.
This legislation needs to be brought before us. It needs to be debated, and it needs to be passed--hopefully unanimously. I am asking the majority leader not to deep-six this legislation. This is too important for our veterans, it is needed, and it should be funded. Any attempt to deny this, I believe, would be a great disservice to the men and women who dedicated so much and put themselves at so great a risk to serve in our military.
Another one of those proposals--and there are five, but I will just talk about two--is the Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act. The bill provides funding for the pay and allowances of military personnel in the Reserve component who are scheduled to report for duty--many as early as this weekend. In Indiana, we have over 20,000 reservists and guardsmen. It is the fourth largest Army National Guard in the country and the sixth largest National Guard Force out of all of the 54 States, provinces, and territories when it is combined with the Air National Guard.
Indiana is home to two Air National Guard wings: the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne and the 181st Intelligence Wing in Terre Haute, as well as the 434th Air Refueling Wing at Grissom Air Reserve Base.
The Senate unanimously approved to pay our troops and remove them from the crossfire of the government shutdown debate. Let's do the same for our reservists and guardsmen who are doing their traditional duty of one weekend a month for, as Winston Churchill said, ``They are twice the citizen.'' Some things simply need to rise above politics. Let's join together, address this issue, and make sure the men and women who have served our country do not pay the price for Washington's failure to govern.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.