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Richard B.
Democrat CT

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  • Continuing Appropriations

    by Senator Richard Blumenthal

    Posted on 2013-09-30

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    BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Warren). Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, moments ago the House of Representatives adopted a rule which clearly indicates that it is set to adopt a resolution containing unrelated conditions that will forestall its approval by this Chamber. That is a tragic result which threatens harm and havoc to countless people who depend on government programs and to our economy. It threatens harm to veterans and children who depend on Head Start, seniors who receive meals, and it threatens jobs and economic growth with a ripple effect that will set all of us back in the continuing fragile and all-to-slow recovery we have seen from the greatest recession in recent memory.

    Today's result in the House of Representatives is a tragedy for democracy. Without any overstatement, we have to recognize that this result reflects a dysfunction in democracy. The threatened shutdown of our government is the result of an extreme ideological fringe element in one House and one party that has made the decision that their agenda is a take-it-or-leave-it condition, that it is more important than economic growth, more important than our seniors, our children, our veterans. Key services, our economic growth, and jobs will be impacted very directly by this impending shutdown.

    This morning I was at a gathering in Glastonbury, CT, with a group of manufacturers, their employees, and economic experts. One economic expert in particular, Steven Lanza of the University of Connecticut, told us that a shutdown of 3 to 4 weeks alone would cost the State of Connecticut 2,000 jobs.

    We know from the predictions of expert economists such as Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics that the result for the country as a whole could be percentage points of lost growth. In fact, we can ill-afford this self-inflicted, manufactured wound to our Nation and to the trust and confidence people deserve to have in our democracy and our economy.

    For some businesses these problems will be more than acute; they will be life-threatening injuries because their existence--not to mention their profits--depends on consumer demand that will be diminished by the ripple effect and the ramifications of the 9,000 Federal employees in Connecticut who will be furloughed, not to mention the hundreds of others whose jobs will be threatened by a shutdown of just days or a week. The fact is that at this point we can't know what the full economic ramifications will be. There are more questions--serious questions--than there are answers.

    I will support an amendment and a measure that will be offered I think later this evening or within hours to preserve the benefits and payments that are due to our veterans for their service and sacrifice. That is a provision we need to make. It is our responsibility to keep faith with those veterans and make sure we leave no veteran behind and that the processing of claims goes forward so our veterans receive the benefits they have earned.

    At the forum I had this morning, Brian Montanari, the president of Habco, which is in Glastonbury, told us [[Page S7035]] he relies on contracts with the Federal Government for much of his business, and his employees--to whose ranks he has been adding--will be impacted by this potential shutdown, if only the uncertainty it creates. He is not alone. Businesses all over Connecticut and the country will face a tougher economic climate because of the shutdown. The Small Business Administration will stop processing applications for the business loans it provides to tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, risk takers, and job creators around the country. Perhaps the most galling aspect of this shutdown is the direct economic hardship it will cause to families whose jobs will be threatened and whose livelihoods will be at risk.

    There are hours to go before the final hour, but the point is, as the President said so well earlier, keeping the government open is not a bargaining chip, it is our job. President Obama said: ``You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job.'' Families need to be able to plan for their future, businesses need certainty in order to make investments and hire new workers, and the Nation needs both parties, not just one, to be fully committed to the democratic process.

    I hope in the time remaining the House does its job, that these extremist demands are rejected--and certainly by this Chamber they will be. My hope is that we can move forward, keep the government open, provide the services people need, and support the economy, which is all too necessary at this point in our history.

    I thank the Presiding Officer.

    I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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