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Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

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  • Government Shutdown

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2013-10-01

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    JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today because I just met some of my constituents who had been to a wedding and decided to drive to their Capital, the Capital of the United States of America. It was good to see them, good to welcome them, good to see their smiling faces and their faith in this Nation.

    I think it is important to lay out the real facts, for some of us who had the honor of serving in this House and have seen the previous shutdown for the debate over the last 72 hours might give the impression that in actuality there has been no attempt at compromise by the Democrats or by the President of the United States.

    Let me disabuse you of those horrible myths. First of all, there are many Democrats who voted for an ugly term by the name of ``sequester,'' which means that it was a ``compromise'' to Republicans to not shut down the government 2 years ago, to take an ugly number that has hurt families across America, that has closed Head Start seats, that has underfunded major infrastructure projects when cities and counties across America in States have been crying out and begging for the fixing of the national highway system long overdue, airports long overdue. But we accepted this ugly word called ``sequester'' because the original team of Members again could not find a compromise-- Republicans and Democrats--because, again, Republicans were listening to the far right voices and did not want the government to operate, simply did not want a Federal Government.

    {time} 1130 So the American people should know that, right now, we are operating under sequester--our staffs are furloughed; we are operating with shortened staffs when lines of cases are in our offices; our staffs are being penalized, and their jobs are to serve the American people, to answer those phones--the desperate calls from around the world of constituents who are stranded, of families who need help for their soldier sons and daughters or husbands and wives, or of seniors who need to be helped or to be straightened out in the confusion of the Medicare and Social Security system sometimes.

    That is the work that we do. We make the government work. But yet, right now, we are operating under furloughs. The government, itself, is operating under furloughs, and that's an ugly term for some people. ``Well, let the government fall.'' I don't view it as a government; I view it as people.

    So, last night, it looked as if there were no compromise, but you have to understand that the last ditch effort of the Republican Conference was a save face, knowing full well that they had every opportunity to stop the shutting down of the government by supporting something called a ``CR.'' There are all of these acronyms. So, for our constituents who ask, ``What is that? What the heck is it?'' it simply means we would keep the doors open until November 15, and reasonable men and women--reasonable minds, constituents--could have input, and discussions could be entered into about what are the pros and cons of running this government, about what is the value of the government, about how do we meet the Founding Fathers' values and the Constitution that said, We formed this Union to make it more perfect so that all men--and women, I might add--would have the right for the great values of this Nation. But each time over the weekend, there was one obstacle after another. One Republican Member put up a silly amendment about denying women preventative health care when dealing with their gynecological health needs.

    I think it is important to be able to know the truth. They say that the truth will set you free, and the truth is that we now have a sense of rebels who really don't have a cause, because the cause should be the American people.

    I note that, in my own community, a base of services of the National Guard was shut down immediately at midnight last evening, or early this morning. These are the consequences--veteran service centers, Mr. Speaker, senior citizens not getting Medicare processed.

    [[Page H6065]] So you have an opening, my friends, and the opening and the solution are to have a CR until November 15. Then we can address the needs of the American people. We are looking for solutions and are prepared to work for the American people right now. Mr. Speaker, put it on the floor of the House, and let us vote.


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