A picture of Representative Ann M. Kuster
Ann K.
Democrat NH 2

About Rep. Ann
  • Government Shutdown

    by Representative Ann M. Kuster

    Posted on 2013-10-04

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    KUSTER. I want to thank my colleague from California (Mr. Peters) for the opportunity this evening to talk about civility, to talk about coming together and finding common ground and, most importantly, to talk about getting things done.

    I first ran for Congress because our Congress here, our government, was mired in dysfunction, and I truly felt that our country needs our help. I want to say that I believe my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are new Members of Congress, including the gentlelady in the chair, share that concern. We have found common ground on a number of issues. I was very proud to work with another freshwoman, Mrs. Walorski, to pass a bill unanimously in this House to help victims of medical, sexual trauma. We came together, and we got 110 bipartisan sponsors, so I know that what we bring to this august body is the ability to find common ground.

    Then, as now, my goal is to bring people together. These are commonsense solutions. My colleague Mr. Peters has just reiterated discussions that have been going on in various rooms in this building-- from the White House to Capitol Hill--throughout this year about entitlement reform, about tax reform, about controlling spending, but, most importantly, about providing the services that people across this country need from our government.

    I come from New Hampshire, the Granite State. We are frugal people, and New Hampshire families don't need more bickering in Washington. They need real solutions to grow the economy, to foster job creation and to expand opportunity for the middle class. That's what they sent me here to do. One of my staffers said to me today that, after the week we've just had, you can't fix the roof when it's pouring out by plugging up just a few holes.

    We've got to come together and solve the whole problem; and I, for one, know that we can do it. I know that we actually have the votes in this body right now to come together and take that vote, a bipartisan vote, to get the country and our government opening again.

    Honestly, Granite State families don't expect Congress to agree on everything. We don't. We have significant differences. Some of them are religious. Some of them are political. Some of them come from our backgrounds and our life experiences. We have real disagreements on issues of significant importance to our country, but they do expect us to work together when we can find areas of agreement. We cannot have cooperation without open dialogue. That's what we're asking for here tonight--civility--which is a common theme, and coming together and creating dialogue, especially now.

    [[Page H6284]] This is the moment for which we ran for Congress. Our government is lurching from crisis to crisis, and what the American people expect and need from their leaders is to come together and find that common ground, to work across the aisle, break the gridlock, end the shutdown, take this bipartisan vote, and restore services for the people we represent and get our country and government working again. We won't get this done solely with Democratic ideas or Republican ideas. Frankly, I don't care if an idea is proposed by a Republican or a Democrat. If it's a commonsense solution to the problems we face, let's support it.

    In New Hampshire, here is how we get things done. I've been making calls all week back to my district as we've been here, voting, to find out what is the impact of the Federal Government shutdown and what I can do to help. So I've talked to mayors all across my district. Let me tell you that these are real people's real lives, and it's going to cause serious pain. I called a small town up north, near the Canadian border. It is a paper mill town. They've lost thousands of jobs in this community.

    So I asked the mayor, What is it that's happening on the ground there? He started to tell me about a woman who works for the United States Department of Agriculture, and what she does is help with rural economic development. She helps with small business loans.

    He said, She's not at work--she has been furloughed--and there are eight small business applications sitting on her desk.

    Now, this is a small town. If there are eight small businesses in this town that won't get those loans and can't create new jobs, that's a problem.

    Because this is the kind of person he is and this is the kind of town it is, he said, And she is a single mom without a paycheck.

    He wanted me to know that.

    Then I talked with mayors of big cities and smaller towns. I talked to businesses. I wanted to understand what's the impact on the business community. Now, I've talked to lots of Federal employees this week, and I've talked to their unions, and I have tremendous compassion for the folks who have been sent home, but I want my colleagues across the aisle to understand the impact on our economy.

    So, today, I was talking to large employers. These are government contractors. They're vendors. They build things, and they provide services for our military, for IT--for everything that we use in this country to keep us safe and to keep us strong. They said thousands of jobs will be lost; and if you read the headlines today, we have already lost thousands.

    I know that, with civility and trust and mutual respect, we can resolve these tired, partisan battles and that we can renew our focus on what really matters: fostering job creation, making smart spending cuts, taking the responsibility to reduce the deficit, encouraging innovation, growing the economy, growing opportunity for the middle class. With a little more civility in the Halls of Congress, I am confident that we can resolve this crisis and redouble our focus on our shared priorities.

    Finally, I spoke with our Governor. Our Governor, Maggie Hassan, said to me, Annie, tell them how we get this done in New Hampshire.

    We have a Democratic Governor and a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. It sounds familiar. It's a little bit twisted from what we have here in Washington, but it's the same effect. It's a divided government. Yet, in New Hampshire, we don't see it as a divided government. We see it as an opportunity to reach across the aisle and to bring people together and find common ground.

    She said, Remind them that we have just passed a budget in New Hampshire that was unanimous in the Republican Senate, virtually unanimous in the Democratic House, signed by the Democratic Governor and, most importantly for all here in Washington, it was a balanced budget. The revenues and the expenditures were equal.

    {time} 2000 That's what I'm talking about here today. Come together and have the discussion about how to get our fiscal house in order, how to create jobs, and how to provide opportunity.

    Finally, I'm going to close with a phone call that I got this week, Scott, that made a tremendous difference in my perspective on this. It was a crackly line coming into my office. A young intern answered the phone. When she could finally understand the speaker on the other end of the line, he said, This is Joe. I'm calling from Afghanistan.

    He is a soldier in Afghanistan, and he's there to serve our country. He said, I am here working hard for my family and my country, and I want you to do the same.

    The message that Joe had for me is that he wants affordable, accessible health care for his family and for families all across New Hampshire and all across this country. He said, Do not give up on that, but you have got to open this government.

    People need the help that they deserve. Our economy needs the strength and the vitality. We can't leave thousands of people without their jobs, without their pay. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to please bring this vote to the floor. We can pass this with a bipartisan vote, and we can move our country forward.

    I thank the gentleman from California for giving us this opportunity.

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