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Peter D.
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  • Government Shutdown

    by Representative Peter A. DeFazio

    Posted on 2013-10-08

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    DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, it is day 7 in a bizarre, new twist on the Republican Tea Party trip down the rabbit hole. On Saturday, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to pay retroactively every Federal employee, those who are working, Capitol Hill Police, those who are being kept from working, like the aviation safety inspector I talked with yesterday. He was quite concerned about what might happen with a long lapse in aviation safety nonpartisans, but he's not allowed to work. That's a bit bizarre. He's thankful that he will someday be paid for not working, but he would rather be working, actually.

    How is it in this weird world that the Mad Hatter Tea Party explains to their people back home, Well, we've shut down government sorta. We've shut down the services, but we're going to pay people for the work they're not doing. We're going to let the Social Security applications pile up and not be processed. We're going to lock people out of the national wildlife refuges during hunting season. We're going to keep the crabbing fleet grounded in Alaska because we can't issue their permits, and we're not going to continue to do the surveys for the fishing season off the northwest coast.

    We've withdrawn all of that. All of those people are sitting around at home, frustrated by law, can't even access their official email, but they're going to be paid. And the Republicans say, We made it good. We're going to pay them.

    What about the American people getting the services? It reminds me of Wimpy J. Wellington from Popeye, who says, I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. Somehow, Tuesday never came, and repayment was never made. In this case, perhaps someday, when they stop their games, we will repay people. But what about the people who have automatic withdrawals, and they're living paycheck to paycheck, and their mortgage is coming due today or next week? What are they going to do? I see the credit unions offering zero percent loans. That's very nice of them. Wouldn't it be better if we actually put those people back to work and we paid them, and you declared victory? You have victory within your grasp, and you're refusing it. Is it about ObamaCare? You know that was an impossible goal. That victory is not within your grasp. If it's about the deficit, which is what Gingrich put the government out of work for, then you have victory within your grasp, because Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid agreed weeks ago to a 6-week continuing resolution, which is what has customarily been done around here for the 27 years I've been here when the two bodies can't agree on a budget. We don't shut down the government every year. Out of 27 years, twice have we got it done in time. So in 23 of those cases, we've continued. In this case, Senator Reid agreed to continue running the government at lower levels of spending, a major reduction back below the 2010 levels. All Speaker Boehner has to do is bring that bill to the floor of the House, and it will pass.

    There are enough Republicans who told the press that they would vote for that. They can declare victory. They cut the budget yet again. They're not off on this fruitless errand of trying to stop ObamaCare from going into effect, which went into effect last week. By the way, 234,000 Oregonians have accessed our Oregon Web site, which is working quite well, thank you very much. In the States that are cooperating, it's working well. In those bonehead States that said they wouldn't cooperate and wouldn't help their people and are actually prohibiting people from being helped like, Florida, no, it's not working so well. I wonder why. Go figure.

    Let's not continue this, and let's begin to deal very quickly with the issues before us because we have looming a deadline that you can't make good later. You can't make it good later. You can't tell the people of the world, all those to whom we owe hundreds of billions of dollars and the Social Security trust fund and others, Oh, we'll make it good later after we default on the debt someday. Interest rates will jump up; houses become more expensive; the housing market probably crashes again; auto sales grind to a halt; credit card interest rates go to even more extortion levels. The damage you will do by credibly threatening to default on the debt of the United States of America for some clearly undefined goal will not be undone for generations. You can't go there.

    Declare victory temporarily. You got your lower levels. Bring a bill to the floor today. Let us vote on it. The Speaker said on the weekend he doesn't have the votes. Let's check that out, because we really think he does have the votes; and it's making him not look too good that he actually accepted the deal before he rejected it and now says he doesn't have the votes. That's an interesting kind of conundrum, and we can prove it very easily.

    Bring the bill up today. Fund the government. Pay people to actually work.


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