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Sheldon W.
Democrat RI

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  • Continuing Appropriations

    by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

    Posted on 2013-10-04

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    WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I join my former attorney general colleague, Senator Heitkamp, in expressing all of our appreciation for what the Capitol Police did. We all know when that event transpired, our job was to go and hunker down, stay away from windows where we might be a target, and keep out of the way and not add to the difficulty or confusion. They had a much tougher job. Their job was to go to the danger and keep the United States Capitol safe. They did their duty and they did it well.

    It is now incumbent upon us to do our duty and that is to get rid of the tea party shutdown. We are now in tea party shutdown day 4. I have been watching this debate as it transpired on the floor and I have been participating a little bit in it. I have heard some interesting comments that have been made out here.

    The first one is the suggestion that this is not a tea party shutdown. They say it is not a tea party shutdown, but the tea party warned of it, the tea party wanted it, the tea party is cheering it, and the tea party says they are profiting from it, that it is a big success.

    When did the tea party warn of it? One example is when Lynn Westmoreland, the Republican from Georgia, long before this all began, told the Faith and Freedom Coalition: This is what we are going to do. If the Government shuts down we want you with us.

    The tea party wanted it.

    Joe Walsh, Republican of Illinois: Most people in my district say shut it down.

    Representative Jack Kingston told reporters that his Georgia constituents would rather have a shutdown than ObamaCare.

    Representative Tim Huelskamp said: If you say government is going to shut down my constituents say, OK, which part can we shut down? The tea party not only warned of it and wanted it, but they are cheering it.

    Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, said this: We are very excited. It's exactly what we wanted, and we got it.

    She pointed out in another quote: This is about the happiest I have seen members in a long time.

    How happy are the tea partyers about the tea party shutdown? Here is what Republican Representative Devin Nunes said: ``They are all giddy about it.'' The dictionary definitions of ``giddy'' say, ``feeling or showing great happiness and joy. Joyfully elated, euphoric.'' ``Giddy'' also means ``lightheartedly, silly'' or ``dizzy'' and ``disoriented,'' but that is another story.

    Elated, giddy, exactly what we wanted--now they say they are profiting from it. Here is GOP cheerleader John Tamny, in Forbes magazine. I am quoting.

    Republican politicians and members of the Party should cheer. . . . The Republican Party . . . decision to allow a shutdown of the federal government-- and get this-- and to ideally allow it to remain shut through the 2014 elections . . . is . . . good politics.

    I will say that again: Republican politicians and members of the Party should cheer. . . . The Republican Party . . . decision to allow a shutdown of the federal government and to ideally allow it to remain shut through the 2014 elections . . . is . . . good politics.

    Echoing that sentiment we had our colleague Senator Rand Paul the other day say, ``We're going to win this, I think.'' So the tea party warned of the tea party shutdown, the tea party wanted the tea party shutdown, the tea party is cheering the tea party shutdown. They are so happy that they are giddy. And they are claiming that their tea [[Page S7204]] party shutdown is a big success. It is a little late now to say, well, it is really not our tea party shutdown.

    I have also heard colleagues come to the floor and say nothing they are doing is extremist. It is not extremist to shut down the government and make the demands they are making. One dictionary definition for extremist is ``one who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics.'' I would say that shutting down the U.S. Government is beyond the norm, even in politics. I would say refusing to ever allow a vote on a Senate-passed bill under the constitutional procedures that prevail between our Houses is beyond the norm. And I would say that deliberately putting hundreds of thousands of people who serve our country out of work is beyond the norm.

    The norm would be for them to vote on our Senate bill over in the House. Over and over we in the Senate have voted on their House measures. We voted to strip out the extraneous measure and send back the continuing resolution. We voted to table. We followed the Constitution, we have done our duty, and we have voted. They in the House may not like that they do not win the Senate vote, but we did our duty in the Senate and have repeatedly voted on House measures.

    Over in the House they have not yet once voted on the Senate measure. It is sitting on the Speaker's desk without ever a single vote. If the Speaker called up the Senate measure and allowed a vote over there in the House, it would pass and the tea party shutdown would be over. But, remember, who wants this shutdown in order to use it for bargaining leverage? The giddy folks, the folks who are so happy they have caused this, the folks who think this is good politics.

    I think it is safe to say they are extremists, both by the dictionary definition and in their disregard of our traditional back and forth, one House voting on the other House's measure.

    Last, and this one is particularly rich, they say we won't negotiate. Let's remember that this all began with a deal negotiated between the Speaker and the majority leader that we pass a clean continuing resolution funding the government. What did the Speaker get out of that deal? We agreed to fund the government at the Speaker's level. He actually won that negotiation. That was what was negotiated. But the Speaker did not honor the deal.

    As I say, it is rich that we negotiate, we give the Speaker the funding level he wants, then he breaks the deal and now claims we won't negotiate.

    One of my colleagues came to the floor a little while ago and he called to mind the radio commentator Paul Harvey. Paul Harvey used to have his catchphrase in his radio broadcast, ``and now for the rest of the story.'' And he talked about the rest of the story. The President has made his position very clear. It is: We will not negotiate while you are holding hostages. Open the government and we will negotiate about everything and anything. But we will not negotiate while you are holding hostages.

    All the Republicans report in this Chamber is the first part: We will not negotiate. It is not a question of the rest of the story, how about the rest of the sentence? We will not negotiate while you are holding hostages. Remember that 19 times we have tried to appoint conferees to negotiate a budget between the Senate and the House and every time, the tea party extremists have stopped us. Let's remember that they do not want to negotiate. They want to negotiate with hostages. That is a very different thing. They want to negotiate with hostages, hundreds of thousands of people who serve our country whom they are using as hostages and will not let go back to work and earn their living. That is not just negotiation. There is something more than just negotiation going on when it involves hostages or other threats.

    Every mom whose 4-year-old is having a tantrum over not getting what they want knows that is not just negotiation. Every 12-year-old picked on by the school bully in the school playground knows that is not just negotiation. And every businessman who is asked to pay protection money knows that is not just negotiation. There is something else going on. Ordinary Americans get the difference between negotiating in good faith, the way we have to if we had appointed conferees and went to have an actual conference between the House and the Senate about our budget, the way the rules in the Constitution propose, and negotiating with a threat or negotiating while holding hostages.

    We are not going to negotiate while you are holding hostages. There are two parts to that sentence.

    May I have 1 minute to conclude? I see Senator Portman has arrived.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    The majority leader said publicly he will negotiate on anything and everything as soon as the hostages are released and the tea party shutdown has ended. To now blame the majority leader for this tea party shutdown reminds me of when President Lincoln was put in such a position. When President Lincoln was accused of the very thing he was trying to prevent, he said: That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth: ``Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!'' That was Abraham Lincoln.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.

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